Bob Smizik: Cumpton has earned his spot

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Nobody asked me, but...

• With his splendid performance in the Pirates' 5-3 win over the Mets yesterday -- six innings, one earned run -- Brandon Cumpton lowered his career ERA in eight MLB starts to 2.72. He is most deserving of being anointed as the full-time successor to Wandy Rodriguez.

• Considering his history of not putting two good years together and considering that he joined the Pirates in 2013 after compiling back-to-back seasons with ERAs over 5.00, there should be no great surprise about the downward spiral in the performance of Francisco Liriano. But there is.

• Gaby Sanchez -- derisively called Mr. OPS by some -- is silencing his critics this season. He had two huge hits, a homer and a single that broke up a tie game, in the win over the Mets. His OPS is no laughing matter for the opposition -- .882.

• Ike Taylor suggested on his radio show that the Steelers bring back James Harrison and Santonio Holmes. Harrison might be an extremely remote possibility, but the notion the Steelers would bring back a player with the negative baggage of Holmes is hysterical.

• A possible explanation as to why the Pirates have given Travis Snider a longer look than he might deserve is this: Brandon Moss hit his 12th home run for Oakland yesterday and in the process raised his OPS to .961.

• Jesse Chavez is a footnote in Pirates infamy. He was the player traded for Aki Iwamura in 2010. Chavez has bounced around, once was traded for Rafael Soriano, and today is in the rotation of the first-place Athletics, for whom he is 4-2 in 10 starts with a 2.61 ERA.

• The unimportance of wins for a hockey goalie: The number of 2013-14 wins for Marc-Andre Fleury, 39; the number of 2013-14 wins for Henrik Lundqvist, 30.

• The unimportance of wins for a baseball pitcher: Jeff Samardzija has a 1.68 ERA, second in the NL, and a 1.07 WHIP. He is 1-4 in 11 starts.

• A solution to the Super 2 situation in arbitration, which is causing players to be held back in the minors for fear of what their MLB salaries will become: Put arbitration at three years for all players and make such a give-back palatable to the union by adding a 26th player to the roster. At the same time, curb pitching staffs at a maximum of 12. MLB benches are way too short.

• Robbie Grossman, the key piece going to Houston in 2012 for Wandy Rodriguez, has been promoted from Class AAA by the Astros where he had an .825 OPS with Oklahoma City. Grossman opened the season with the Astros but was demoted when he hit .125 in 48 at bats. Grossman will start in left field, where he will replace Alex Presley (.218/.246/.323 -- .569 in 124 at bats).

• Hope the Pitt fans who thought Steven Adams made a mistake opting for the NBA after one college season were watching the Oklahoma City-San Antonio game Sunday. Adams played 28 minutes for the Thunder and had seven points, nine rebounds and four blocks in the OC win.

• Any thoughts of removing Liriano from the rotation are ridiculously premature.

• Two pitchers taken in the 2013 draft already have made it to MLB. They are Corey Knebel, taken in the first round (39th by Detroit), and Kyle Crockett, taken in the fourth round (111th by Cleveland). Both are 22 and were drafted out of college.

• News item: Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta will be out four to six months following surgery and could miss the start of the 2014-15 season. Such an injury to a Steeler or Pirate would be a cause for concern. With a Penguins player, it only means he’ll be more rested for the playoffs.

• It would surprise no one to know that Gregory Polanco leads the International League in batting, slugging and OPS and is third in on-base percentage (through Sunday). What some might find surprising is that teammate Chris Dickerson is second in batting and OPS and fourth in OBP and slugging.

• Score one for Neal Huntington: The much-criticized Pirates bench has become a strength of the team. Pirates pinch-hitters are 23-87, .264, second in the National League, with three home runs.


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