Seeing the Pittsburgh Pirates get off to a hot start is nothing new. They’ve been in the thick of the NL Central race for the better part of the last two seasons, only to collapse down the stretch.
Why should we believe this year will be any different?
Here’s a hint: they’re racking up wins without getting much offensive production from All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen. He’s hitting just .260 and has only five home runs and 21 RBIs through 39 games. As strange as it sounds, that should bode well for the Pirates moving forward. Based on his big league track record, it’s only a matter of time before McCutchen takes off at the dish. Keep in mind, this is a guy that hit .327 with 31 home runs and 96 RBIs a year ago.
Pittsburgh enters Thursday’s series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers having won five of its last six games. Over that stretch, McCutchen is 3-for-22 with only one extra base hit. No matter, fans in Pittsburgh are still lining up to buy jerseys with the number 22 stitched on the back.
Even when he isn’t swinging a hot bat, the Pirates are more than happy to have McCutchen patrolling the outfield, not to mention serving as a leader in the clubhouse. The simple truth is, you don’t need to score a ton of runs when you have a pitching staff that ranks eighth-best in baseball in ERA and sixth in strikeouts.
The struggling Brewers will send Hiram Burgos to the mound against rejuvenated left-hander Francisco Liriano and the Pirates on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Eastern.