Everyone wants to talk about how Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen must stay hot at the plate in order for the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. There is definitely some truth to that statement. In fact, both players need to have a big game in order for the Pirates to win Game 5. However, I believe there are two other players that must step up if Pittsburgh wants to move on.
Starling Marte is 1-for-15 while Neil Walker is 0-for-16 during the NLDS. Even though Marte’s one hit was a home run, it was during a 7-1 rout of the Cardinals in Game 3. Obviously, it is unacceptable for two players who had decent regular seasons to slump when it matters most.
Marte has been leading off, while Walker has hit second in the batting order. Obviously, their inability to consistently get on base in front of the big hitters has proved to be costly.
Manager Clint Hurdle has already stated that both players will suit up for Wednesday night’s contest. The good news is the show of support should give Marte and Walker confidence to play better.
“These men are both capable and they have done it in the past,” Hurdle said, according to ESPN.com. “We have been pitched effectively in a couple different spots. I have every confidence that tomorrow night will be the night that they get going.”
There is no question Game 5 is the night the left fielder and second baseman have to get going. Nobody wants to go into the offseason knowing they did not help their team win despite getting every chance to do so. Many will rely on Alvarez and McCutchen to slug the Pirates to victory. However, it will be Marte and Walker getting on base and coming up with big hits that could prove to be the difference.