Pirates Notebook: How to boost the offense

The Pirates offense has just looked pathetic in the last two games. For the last 20 innings, the Pirates have been held scoreless, getting completely shut down by Gavin Floyd (who came in to this series with an ERA over 7), and Clayton Richard (who entered tonight’s game with a 1.59 WHIP).

The worst part is that two great pitching outings were wasted in the last two nights. Zach Duke pitched a gem yesterday, needing only 88 pitches to go eight innings, with two earned runs. Ross Ohlendorf allowed four runs tonight in 7.2 innings, although it wouldn’t matter if he allowed just one run with the lack of support he saw.

The pitching looks good this season, at least in the rotation. So what is there to do about the offense? Believe it or not, it’s kind of hard to upgrade this offense.

-At catcher we’re waiting for Ryan Doumit to return, which should provide a boost. However, it’s not like Jason Jaramillo and Robinzon Diaz have been horrible in their time subbing for Doumit.

-Adam LaRoche did well in April, and is now struggling big time in May, hitting for a .175 average with a homer every 40 at bats.

-Freddy Sanchez is also struggling, with a .250 average in the month of May.

-Jack Wilson is 1 for 17 in his last five games, after going 4 for 4 against Washington.

-Andy LaRoche is one of the only hot hitters right now, with an 8 game hitting streak, and hits in his last nine starts.

-Nyjer Morgan is 2 for 22 going back to the last game against Colorado.

-Nate McLouth is batting .276 in May, but is 0 for 10 in the last three games.

-Brandon Moss is another hot hitter. Moss is hitting .328 in May, with hits in his last eight starts, hitting .500 (17 for 34) since May 12th. It makes you wonder why he’s been benched for three games during that stretch.

The Pirates have limited options to upgrade the offense. One option would be to call up Andrew McCutchen, who is hitting .303 in the month of May, including .346 in the last two weeks. But who does McCutchen replace? Certainly not McLouth. You don’t want to bench Morgan based on one bad week. And Moss is the hottest hitter on the team right now.

Then there’s the infield. Andy LaRoche is hitting very well. Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez, and Jack Wilson are all struggling at the plate, but the Pirates are stuck with all of them, forced to ride out this slump. It’s not like there’s other options available, as the bench players we have are also struggling, and there are no players ready at AAA.

Pretty much the only option the Pirates have right now would be to wait out this slump. It would be easier if Brandon Moss was struggling, as that would give us the easy fix of bringing up McCutchen. On the bright side, this time next year we could have McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez in the lineup, with Jose Tabata possibly on the way.

The MVP Tracker

Updates to the MVP Tracker from the last two nights. Pretty much every player who did nothing at the plate gets negative points.

Friday – Negative points for Nyjer Morgan, Freddy Sanchez, Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, and Eric Hinske.

Saturday – Negative points for Nyjer Morgan, Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Delwyn Young, and Jack Wilson.

Other Stuff

-The Draft Prospects Tracker is updated.

-Dustin Ackley hit his 20th homer of the season tonight.

-Tyler Matzek got his tenth win of the season Friday night, throwing four no-hit innings, and striking out six while walking one.

-Tanner Scheppers had a wild start in his second Indy appearance. Scheppers went four innings, striking out six, but walking five. He allowed four runs, but none were earned.

-I’ll be at the Lynchburg Hillcats game on Tuesday, providing Twitter updates on the performance of Pedro Alvarez, Jordy Mercer, and Matt Hague, amongst other players. Subscribe to my Twitter feed to get the updates.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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