Life After Littlefield: Pirates take 2nd series against Cubs, head to Milwaukee


For the second time this month the Pirates managed to take 2 of 3 from the Chicago Cubs, this time it was on the road.  With these 2 wins the Pirates currently sit at 6-3, which is good enough for 2nd place in the NL Central behind the Milwaukee Brewers. A couple keys notes to take way from this series with the Cubs include the strength of the bullpen, the struggles of Wandy Rodriguez, and the hot start for Pedro Alvarez.

So far this season, the Pirates bullpen has pitched a combined 27.1 innings and given up just 9 runs so far, 6 of those coming off of Jeanmar Gomez who has been on the struggle bus so far this season.  But aside from him, the rest of the bullpen has experienced great success as all of them have ERAs under 3.00 and K/9 over 5.40.  As predicted, the majority of the workload has come from Melancon, Grilli, and Watson who all have been up to the challenge as they have combined for 2 wins, 6 holds, and 3 saves.

Luckily for the Pirates the Houston Astros are paying just under half of Wandy Rodriguez’s salary this season, because he has not been sharp at all to start the season.  Through his first 2 starts of the season, Wandy is 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA, while giving up 7 earned runs in 11 innings pitched.  Those aren’t exactly good numbers, even if they are coming from someone who was hurt the majority of last season.  For the Pirates to have success this year Wandy is going to have to be much better, especially when he faces the Cubs, who he has faced in both of these starts.

For a team to be able to win enough games to reach the postseason, they must have a legitimate power source in the middle of their lineup.  So far this season Pedro Alvarez has been that legitimate power source, posting 5 homeruns and 10 RBIs through the teams first 9 games.  The batting average may never be there for Pedro, just .229 to this point, but it’s the instant offense and run producing ability that Pedro so important to this team.  Perhaps the 2 most encouraging signs so far this season from Pedro include his willingness to hit the ball the other way and his BB:K ratio.  If he can continue to hit to the opposite field, the average could creep up to the .250 region as the season goes on, and the 1:1 BB:K ratio is also extremely encouraging so far this season.

The Bucs take on the Brewers tonight in Milwaukee at 8:10 PM, and Liriano will take on Wily Peralta in the first game of the series.  It’ll be important, as always, to limit the damage that Ryan Braun does this weekend, as few players have his skill set.