Pirates Notebook: No question where this team stands

A lot of the complaints I read from the Pirates players following the Nate McLouth trade expressed anger over the notion that the front office was giving up on them while they were just six and a half games out of first place.

If there’s one point of evidence that can refute the line of thinking that says we had a shot with Nate McLouth on the team, then here it is:

Player A: 6.64 ERA in 42 innings pitched

Player B: 0.90 ERA in 20 innings pitched

Player A is Mike Hampton this season. Player B is also Mike Hampton this season. The difference? The first version is Mike Hampton vs the rest of the league. That version of Hampton has just one quality start in eight outings against non-Pittsburgh teams. The second version is Mike Hampton vs the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It would be one thing if it was just Mike Hampton. But it’s not just Mike Hampton.

It’s Brian Moehler, who had an 8.31 ERA before holding the Pirates to a one run complete game.

It’s Ross Detwiler, who held the Pirates to two runs over five innings, with six strikeouts, only to post a 5.74 ERA in his next three starts.

It’s Gavin Floyd, who had a 7.71 ERA in eight starts before shutting out the Pirates over eight innings.

It’s Livan Hernandez, who has posted a 3.86 ERA against the Pirates, which combined with a great game against the Nationals, is one of the only reasons he has an ERA below 5.00.

The Pirates simply do not win the games they should be winning. They have no problem beating up aces, as odd as that seems. However, when it comes to the “easy” pitching matchups, they just don’t show up. This was happening while McLouth was on the team, and nothing suggests that the situation would have reversed its self if McLouth had stayed.

The Pirates may be 6.5 games out of first place, but until they start winning these types of games, they are no closer to being a contender than the Washington Nationals, currently sitting in last in the majors, and 18 games out of first place in the NL East.

I don’t know how to go about fixing that problem, but I do know that taking McLouth away is not what will eventually send this team to their 17th consecutive losing year in a row. It’s the absence of the rest of the offense during these must-win games that will see the Pirates below .500 once more.

Lucky for us, Roy Oswalt takes the mound, although he hasn’t been in regular Roy Oswalt form this year, so that could pose a problem. Sunday should be dreadful, with Felipe Paulino bringing his 6.21 ERA to the mound.

The MVP Tracker

The MVP Tracker is updated through the 6/5 victory. Here are the biggest changes for tonight’s loss:

1. Jeff Karstens: -.193 WPA
2. Andrew McCutchen: -.087
3. Nyjer Morgan: -.069
3. Jason Jaramillo: -.069
5. Evan Meek: -.048

Other Stuff

-Tyler Matzek pitched a complete game shutout in what will probably be his final start before the draft. Despite not making my final three, I wouldn’t be upset if the Pirates took Matzek. It’s that type of draft where I’d be happy with about 15 different possibilities. Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out my Draft Preview on Monday.

-I’m not sure when Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers pitch again. It’s hard finding information on the Indy leagues, and both should have pitched by now. Maybe they’re finished until after the draft (so as not to injure themselves and hurt their draft stock). That’s my guess.

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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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