As predicted in today’s preview, today featured two outstanding pitching performances by each team’s starter. As it was also predicted, Michael Wacha had just a bit more trouble than Gerrit Cole, and in turn took the loss in today’s game.
Wacha cruised along to begin the game as he retired nice straight batters with an incredibly low pitch count. He eventually broke down in the 4th by allowing back to back singles to John Jaso and Andrew McCutchen, though no runs would be put on the scoreboard. Most of Wacha’s damage would be done in the 5th when he allowed a Jordy Mercer walk, which Chris Stewart capitalized on by driving him in on an RBI double that was hit softly down the left field line. In the same inning, John Jaso would collect his second hit of the game by barely driving a two run homer over Stephen Piscotty‘s head. Wacha was removed from the game after 6 innings and allowed 4 earned runs.
Gerrit Cole’s day was much of the opposite. He labored greatly in the 1st inning, allowing the bases to be loaded while throwing 33 pitches. He was able to escape the jam, but his early workload would appear to shorten his day. He eventually settled in, though he allowed a Brandon Moss RBI that scored Matt Carpenter in the 3rd, and a solo shot home run to Jeremy Hazelbaker in the 6th. Even with his high pitch count, was finished the day pitching 6 innings, allowing two earned runs and struck out seven.
The relief core was the same old story as its been this season. With an 8-2 lead, it was still hard to watch knowing it could be erased at any moment. Kyle Lobstein relieved Cole in the 7th and only lasted 2/3 of an inning, yet still allowing three earned run. Lobstein was pulled in favor for Arquimedes Caminero who immediately allowed a hit and was sent right to the bench afterwards. Finally, it was settled down with Neftali Feliz making the final out to end the inning.
Tony Watson entered in the 8th inning and showed one of his best outing of the year. It was the first time he didn’t allow a baserunner on. With the game not in a save situation, Clint Hurdle elected to put in Ryan Vogelsong to end the game. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t work out as Vogey allowed two hits and a walk in just 1/3 of an inning. With the save situation in play now, Hurdle called for the big guns, and Mark Melancon was able to generate a one pitch game ending double play.
The Pirates offense was as good as the relief core was shaky. Once the team had their first go at Wacha, they were relentless with the bats, totaling 14 hits and four walks. Starling Marte continues his scorching tear of the NL collecting three hits with two of them being doubles. He now has sole possession of the NL Doubles lead with 13 total. John Jaso also had three hits today and finds his batting average above .300 once again.
With the rotation starting to turn the corner and the offense performing at record pace, its obvious the rotation is something that needs immediate assistance. Besides Melancon, there hasn’t been anyone on this club that has been trustworthy in any situation. Even Tony Watson has looked very shaky at times. His 5.74 FIP would show that he actually hasn’t performed as well as his ERA reflects at this point, and its possible to see that inflate soon. I don’t know what the immediate answer is, but I would not be surprised to find that Arquimedes Caminero is DFA’d sometime in the very near future. As much as he is liked at the NSN, he just isn’t finding any consistency this year that has been troubling him since the beginning of spring training.
Also, it’s worth noting that even if the Pirates do hold out due to Super Two status (they will) Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow are about 30 days away from joining the club. This in itself could be huge additions to the bullpen, forcing Juan Nicasio and Jeff Locke/Jon Niese there, barring any injuries. Tyler Glasnow has had three scoreless outings and managed to drop his ERA to a 1.64 on the season. He has been a strikeout machine punching out 48 batters in 33 innings. Before you go nuts, understand that the control issues have still been there, though he only allowed one walk this past inning. Taillon is also mastering Triple A with a 1.19 ERA in 30.1 innings.