The Pittsburgh Pirates fell to 6-2 in the Grapefruit League on Friday when the Minnesota Twins rallied in the late innings to take the lead from the Bucs. The Spring Training standings don’t matter, but it is always interesting to keep tabs on how certain players are doing. For the Pirates, no player has been more impressive so far than NL MVP Andrew McCutchen.
The 2013 MVP is hitting .727/.750/1.182 in 12 plate appearances. Not only is he getting on base at a great rate, but nearly half of his hits have been for extra bases. Of his eight hits, three have been for extra bases — two doubles and one home run. Clearly, his .727 average is a product of a small sample size. Two weeks from now, he won’t be hitting anywhere near .727, but it is certainly a good sign to see the Pirates’ best player get off to a hot start.
For the Twins, they got ambushed early as starting pitcher Vance Worley got rocked. In 1.1 innings, Worley allowed seven hits, a walk and five earned runs. The Twins’ biggest problem in 2013 was their starting pitching, so watching Worley struggle so much against a less-than-stellar Pirates lineup couldn’t have been easy for Twins fans.
Along with McCutchen, there were a few other good signs for the Pirates on Friday. Wandy Rodriguez, in his second appearance of the spring, pitched two innings and struck out two while allowing two hits. After missing most of the season in 2013, Rodriguez apparently looks decent so far in the spring. Jason Grilli, the Pirates’ closer, pitched a clean inning on Friday and struck out one batter.
The Pirates’ offense probably won’t be great in 2014, but they didn’t rely on the bats last season anyway. If the Pirates are going to win, they will need to continue to follow their model of great pitching and defense moving forward. So far in the spring, it looks like the pitching is on the right track to continue being dominant.