By Zach Morrison @Zach_Morrison1 on May 8, 2014
The Pittsburgh Pirates are off to a slow start, at just 14-20, but they appear to be turning it around, going 4-2 in their previous six games. Winning the National League Central division seems unlikely at this point, but if they continue to try to win each series, they could find themselves back in the race at some point.
The starting rotation of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke pitched very well for the better part of 2013. The Pirates are having a decent year on the mound so far, but nowhere near as good as they were last season.
The Pirates hoped to roll with Travis Snider and Jose Tabata in right field until mid-June, but they simply aren't getting enough production to justify leaving top prospect Gregory Polanco in the minors. Snider is hitting .228/.315/.367 and Tabata is hitting .247/.293/.312. Meanwhile, Polanco is hitting a mere .395/.444/.613 at Triple-A.
The Pirates had hopes that Jordy Mercer could build on his impressive 2013 campaign moving forward. However, they should have looked deeper into his stats last season. Against lefties, Mercer hit .410, but he had an unsustainable .418 BABIP. Also, Mercer hit just .247/.297/.357 against right-handers. His early struggles in 2014 shouldn't be too much of a surprise.
Despite a very strong start to the 2014 season, Edinson Volquez is starting to look like the Volquez we are used to seeing. He isn't walking as many batters, with just 2.09 BB/9, but he is still not a good pitcher. In 38.2 innings, the right-handed hurler has a 4.19 ERA and a 4.47 FIP.
After winning the NL MVP in 2013 with a .317/.404/.508 line, Andrew McCutchen is off to an even better start in 2014. In 160 plate appearances, the Pirates' superstar is hitting .321/.431/.519, while also walking in 16.3 percent of his plate appearances.
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