Another month of Bucco baseball is in the books. Just like we did in April, let’s look back at the best & worst of May…
By wins above replacement, Pirate hitting was eighth best in baseball this May. Their .346 on-base percentage was the best in baseball, and their .275 batting average ranked third. The Bucs’ hitting was better, but run production wasn’t: they scored 111 runs (19th in MLB), 3.8 per game, which just doesn’t make sense considering their high BA and OBP for the month.
Series Victories & A Winning Record
Entering the month, the Pirates failed to win a series since April 10th. They endured five consecutive series losses to end April, then got swept in the May 1st doubleheader vs. Baltimore. Things got rolling after that, however, and they took series from the Blue Jays, Giants, Cardinals, and Nationals (all at home). All in all, they finished May at 15-14 – still not good, but better, and a winning record nonetheless.
J-Hay came out of nowhere — he started just two games in April, but is now playing every day in right field until you-know-who gets the call to The Show. Harrison hit .317/.356/.488 in May, making a number of big plays with both the bat and glove.
The Pittsburgh Kid had a great month, slashing .313/.394/.464. He knocked four more home runs (giving him 10 on the year) and collected hits in 23 of 29 games. Neil’s hitting .276 with a .795 OPS in 2014 — among the best numbers for second basemen — making him an All-Star possibility if he keeps raking.
The newest Bucco looked like a new man in May, hitting .326/.408/.453. He gets on base a ton, and has shown a few glimpses of solid power.
Tony Watson doing Tony Watson things — ZERO runs allowed in 13 appearances. On the year: 1.08 ERA, 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Starling Marte drops the mic
A great comeback win against the Blue Jays on May 2nd, ending with a Starling Marte walk-off homer and a tremendous bat drop.
The First Walk-Off Replay
Just four days later, Marte walked it off again — this time in much more unusual fashion. A ridiculous play that became baseball’s first ever walk-off replay:
The infamous retired pierogi, Potato Pete, made not one but TWO appearances in May. First during Sunday Night Baseball on May 11th, then again last weekend to beat the Nationals’ Presidents.
The arms are still a problem… The starting rotation had the fifth-highest ERA in MLB this month. That’s not gonna work. The bullpen was better, but still experienced some problems.
A couple good outings didn’t cover up the handful of bad ones — a 5.34 ERA for the month of May; .282/.362/.452 opponent slash line; walked nearly five batters per nine innings. A huge part of the 2013 team’s success, Liriano’s taken a step back with the rest of the team.
Edinson Volquez doing Edinson Volquez things — 5.67 ERA in his last five starts, reverting back to his high-walk-rate ways, still not striking out enough batters. He was better his last two times out — somehow hitting 99 mph on the radar gun at Citi Field — but he’s just too inconsistent.
Morris’ stuff was praised in spring training, good enough to earn himself a spot in the Shark Tank. But he’s been forgettable lately, giving up eight runs over 12.2 May innings (5.68 ERA), and hasn’t evolved into a reliable backend reliever. EDIT: The Pirates just traded him to the Marlins. Wow.
The Pirates have been garbage away from home this year. They won just five of 14 road games in May and hold one of the worst road records in Major League Baseball.
Rain forced two doubleheaders on the Bucs — one in Baltimore, one in New York. They lost both to the Orioles; luckily salvaged one against the Yankees. The Pirates played pretty poorly in all four of those games… they were not fun to watch.
Polanco. Polanco. Polanco.
Another month without Gregory Polanco. Yes, they obviously weren’t going to call him up, but yes, it was still frustrating — partially due to how well he’s been doing, partially due to how bad the Bucs have been playing, partially due to people never shutting up about him. Pirate fans clamored 24/7 for the team’s top prospect; that only escalated as he kept playing well and when it was reported that the team had offered him a long term contract well before he would step onto a Major League diamond. We’ve already seen Polanco jerseys, shirseys, and signs at PNC Park. He’s ready. He’s close. He’s only a phone call away.
This closes the book on May 2014. Let me know if I missed anything.
June will be a big one for the Pirates. The schedule isn’t nearly as difficult. Many beatable teams. This is where the Pirates need to get back into the race. Polanco is coming. Buckle up.