Thursday, June 27, 2013

Buccos are for real

By Jeff

Holy crap! The Pittsburgh Pirates are tied for the best record in baseball!

Usually that statement is filled with sarcasm because the only other time I remember saying it in the past 10 years is when the Pirates start the season off 1-0.

But it's June 27, and we're almost halfway through the Major League Baseball season. Did any of you see this coming? Could anyone have predicted a 48-30 record and a share of first place in the NL Central for the Pirates when looking at the team's opening day roster?

I'm guilty as anyone, OK maybe Bob Smizik is more guilty than I, for thinking this was going to be a bad year for the Buccos. The lineup looked like a joke on opening day. The rotation actually had Jonathan Sanchez in it. James McDonald went to hell after the All-Star break last season and showed no signs of turning it around in spring training. It looked like a bad team.

Well, the rotation has been incredible (It helped that the team dumped Sanchez). The team has not lost the last eight games Jeanmar Gomez started. This is the same Jeanmar Gomez who had a career ERA of 5.21 before coming to the Pirates.

Francisco Liriano could end up the Comeback Player of Year. Right now he's sitting at a sweet 2.30 ERA. In 2011 and 2012 he had ERA's of 5.09 and 5.34, respectively. He's also back to a K/9 higher than 10 for the first time since his rookie year with the Minnesota Twins in 2006.

Then there is Jeff Locke. Remember last September and early April this year when members of the media and fans alike were saying he didn't look like a major league pitcher? Well, Locke hasn't lost a decision since his season debut on April 7. He hasn't given up more than four runs in a start this year, and the last time he gave up that many was April 18. Hell, since May 4 he has dropped his ERA from 3.21 to 2.06.

St. Louis Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller is getting more national love, but Locke has been just as good if not better and deserves serious consideration for NL Rookie of the Year. (EDIT: If only he had pitched two less innings last year. But alas, as Mike commented, Locke pitched 51 innings between 2011 and 2012, so he does not qualify. ESPN lied to me.)
I'm Henry Rowengartner, and I approve
Jeff Locke as Rookie of the Year, even if he's not technically a rookie.

I never thought I'd be making this statement regarding the 2013 Pirates, but this potential of this team is scary.

The team playing the best baseball in the league right now Imagine how good they could be if Andrew McCutchen starts hitting for power or Starling Marte catches fire like he did at the beginning of the season. Not to mention if starters Wandy Rodriguez and AJ Burnett come back from their injuries and pitch as effectively as they did before they hit the DL.

What I love about this year's Pirates is they are playing all opponents tough. They are taking advantage of sub-.500 teams with a 28-16 record against them. But they also have a winning record (22-12) against teams with records above .500. To top it all off, their run differential is 

Pirates fans obviously still have a bitter taste in their mouths from the giant collapses the team suffered in the second halves of the past two seasons. But for right now they are playing great baseball and showing no signs of slowing down.


  1. Just FYI but Locke pitched like 2/3 of an inning too much last year so he lost rookie status.

  2. I blame ESPN. According to them he is still a rookie and I took their word for it.