Starling Marte has somehow avoided injury all season despite being hit by 18 pitches. His hit-by-pitch total puts him in the top three in the NL. With Marte’s inability to be patient at the plate and draw walks, being hit by pitches is the only way for him to keep his on-base percentage up.
Despite his luck in terms of avoiding ailments, the injury bug may have gotten to him on Saturday night against the Colorado Rockies. In the top of the seventh inning, Marte was struck on the hand by a fastball thrown by Rockies pitcher Adam Ottavino. Unlike the other times he was hit by a pitch, Marte wasn’t able to just shake this one off.
After the Pittsburgh Pirates training staff looked at the left hand of Marte for a few moments, it was decided that the best course of action would be for him to be pulled from the game to have an X-Ray done on his hand. Alex Presley replaced Marte in the lineup and in left field.
Losing Marte for an extended period of time, or possibly even the season, would be devastating for this Pirates team. Marte leads the NL in several categories among leadoff men, including hits, steals, triples and runs. The only other leadoff options the Pirates have are Presley, Jose Tabata and Neil Walker. The Pirates won’t use Walker in the lead-off spot because he isn’t a threat on the bases and he is thought of as a run-producer.
If I had to choose between those three, my first choice would probably be Walker, but since the Pirates will avoid that, I would choose Tabata. He seems to have a very good understanding of the strike zone, and he is actually one of the better Pirates players in terms of drawing walks and avoiding strikeouts.
While Tabata isn’t the base-stealing threat he once was, or even the hitter he once was, it appears that he will be getting plenty of time at the top of the lineup unless Marte can return to the lineup quickly.