Bob Smizik: Marte going in wrong direction

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Ten random thoughts on the Pirates:

• The good news on Starling Marte is that his OPS for May, going into last night’s game with the Dodgers, was over .800. And that’s the end of the positive information concerning Marte, whose OPS fell below .800 for May with an 0-for-4 night. He is blazing fast, but his mental gaffes on the bases are outdistancing his speed. He’s a gifted defender but at times becomes a liability in the field. He has immense offensive potential but he’s striking out more often than Pedro Alvarez.

• Quick quiz: Name the MLB pitcher whose 2014 ERA jumped from 3.38 to 6.85 last night? Upon finally nailing a rotation spot, Brandon Cumpton pitched like he wanted to throw it away in the 12-2 loss to the Dodgers. Cumpton gave up 10 earned run in 3 2/3 innings. He’s gone from a potential member of the 2015 Pirates rotation to a potential member of the 2014 Indianapolis rotation.

• Clint Hurdle has shown near-unwavering confidence in reliever Bryan Morris. You have to wonder how much longer than can last. These are Morris’ ERAs for the past four months, dating back to August: 4.38, 6.14, 1.80, 5.91.

• Here’s a set of stats you won't see too often. Backup catcher Chris Stewart has an on-base percentage that is 50 points higher than his slugging percentage. Fifteen of Stewart’s 16 hits are singles.

• Josh Harrison won’t go away. His 5-for-25 stretch between May 23-28 was taken as an indication Harrison's hot streak had ended and he was about to become the well-below average hitter he’s been for most of his MLB career. But in his past three games, he is 6-for-13.

• Pedro Alvarez sat against against left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu and it’s not hard to see why. Alvarez is batting .189 with a .601 OPS versus lefties this season. For his career, those numbers are .199 and .603.

• Of the 13 Pirates position players, the 12 not named Clint Barmes have a combined career batting average of .170 (16-for-94) against Zack Greinke, the Dodgers’ starter tonight. Barmes is batting .538 (7-for-13) with two doubles and two RBIs against Greinke, who is 8-1 with a 2.18 ERA this season. In his last start, Greinke struck out 11 in 7 2/3 innings. Greinke is 5-2 lifetime against the Pirates but with a 5.29 ERA.

• There might be a second consecutive Jose Tabata sighting tonight. Tabata, who had three hits last night, is 3-for-6 lifetime against Greinke.

• The Pirates are 25-30. After 55 games last year they were 34-21. In 2012 they were 28-27 and in 2011 they were 26-29. They are 15-14 in May.

• Cumpton’s performance pushed the ERA of Pirates starters to 4.55, which is 14th in the National League. In 2013, Pirates starters had a 3.50 ERA, fourth best in the NL.


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