The Pittsburgh Pirates are right in the thick of a race with the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Central division crown. With only one and a half games separating the Pirates from the division-leading Brewers, there is plenty of reason to believe they can emerge victorious in late September. Unfortunately, that optimism existed before superstar outfielder Andrew McCutchen suffered a severe oblique strain.
With McCutchen expected to miss at least one month on the 15-day disabled list, Pittsburgh is in big trouble. In fact, it is not outside the realm of reality to believe they can kiss their postseason dreams goodbye. I am not saying that McCutchen makes up all of the talent on the roster. I mean, any team that is seven games above .500 in the second half of a season is clearly getting production from multiple people. With that being said, there is no denying that McCutchen is what makes the Pirates tick.
The reigning NL MVP leads the Pirates in batting average (.311), home runs (17), RBI (67), doubles (32) triples (5) and at-bats (412). He also ranks second on the team in stolen bases (17). Needless to say, his presence is necessary if Pittsburgh wants to keep winning.
McCutchen would not be injured if it were not for the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks and their childish antics. During Saturday’s contest between the two teams, the Diamondbacks retaliated by beaming McCutchen for the Pirates accidently plunking Paul Goldschmidt the night before. Goldschmidt is done for the season with a broken hand and McCutchen will probably not return to his stellar form at any point during the 2014 season. It should be made clear that McCutchen could have suffered the oblique injury during a swing. Nonetheless, getting beaned definitely did not help.
As far as the Pirates are concerned, trying to win games without their best player will not come easy. But if they want to give McCutchen a shot at redemption, they must figure out a way to reach the playoffs.