Pirates notebook: Fatigue not a factor in recent woes
Share with others:
The August pitching woes do not appear to be caused by fatigue, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
"As we look, it's about execution," he said. "The commitment to the pitch, the command, finishing innings - that's where we've come into difficulties."
After the pitching staff carried the team as the offense struggled through the first two months of the season, management made sure to find adequate rest for pitchers - starters and relievers.
The Pirates have started a pitcher with five or more days of rest 78 times in 128 games this season, the most in the National League Central Division. The Cardinals have done it 70 times, the second most in the NL Central.
But the same late-season pitching struggles that hampered the Pirates a year ago have resurfaced.
As a team, the August ERA was 4.60 - the first month this season it has been higher than 4.00. The blame for those struggles can be spread throughout the staff. The starters had a 4.95 ERA in August - A.J. Burnett, entering Monday, was at 5.27; James McDonald and Erik Bedard have 5.91 ERAs; and Wandy Rodriguez has a 4.94 ERA this month. Jeff Karstens is the lone starter to excel in August, with a 2.81 ERA.
The relievers had a 3.96 ERA entering Monday, their first month with an ERA higher than 3.00 this season.
The Pirates are on pace to set season highs for most hits against and most strikeouts recorded in a month.
"We've been representative in getting rest, giving guys days when they need them, keeping guys on track when that needs to be," Hurdle said. "I think it just comes down to a point of execution."
Working at third
First baseman Gaby Sanchez, acquired in a deadline deal with the Miami Marlins, spent some time Monday afternoon taking grounders at third base.
"You don't want to box people in," Hurdle said.
Sanchez has never played any position but first while in the majors, but he played parts of 134 games at third while in the Marlins minor league system.
"He had played some third before," Hurdle said. "We just wanted to revisit it."
When the Pirates dealt Casey McGehee to the New York Yankees at the trade deadline, they lost some defensive depth at third behind Pedro Alvarez. Josh Harrison has some experience at the position, and Matt Hague, who has spent most of the season at Class AAA Indianapolis, has worked primarily at third this season.
Two prospects earned recognition for their accomplishments in the minor leagues.
Right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon was named the Eastern League pitcher of the week after making his Class AA debut last week. In two starts, Taillon went 2-0 while pitching 11 scoreless innings. He struck out 13 batters and surrendered two hits.
Taillon, 20, was the second overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft.
In high school, Taillon signed with the Pirates for a then-club record $6.5 million bonus.
First baseman Alex Dickerson was named the Florida State League player of the year.
Entering Monday, Dickerson was hitting .299 with 12 home runs and 88 RBIs for the Class A Bradenton Marauders. He was second in the league in RBIs, hits and stolen bases, third in doubles and eighth in batting average.
The Pirates drafted Dickerson, 20, out of Indiana University in the third round of the 2011 draft.
Second baseman Neil Walker was a late scratch from the lineup Monday after emerging from pregame batting practice with tightness in his lower back. He was being treated and evaluated Monday night.
Walker was replaced at second by Harrison, who was scheduled to start at shortstop. Clint Barmes replaced Harrison at shortstop.
First Published August 27, 2012 11:11 pm