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ORLANDO, Fla. – First-inning runs appear to be a problem for the Pirates. But the more pressing issue might be what they are going to do with a vacancy in the starting rotation.
Entering this game, I viewed Kyle McPherson as the favorite to win the position, as did many in the Pirates’ clubhouse. But in spring training, a “small sample size” is a double-edged sword.
Take, for instance, James McDonald’s 2012 spring training. He struggled in 2012 spring training, posting an 8.31 ERA. But because of his past success in the Pirates’ rotation, his spot was safe. And as it turned out, those spring troubles were only spring troubles (until the second half, when spring troubles became second-half troubles). The Pirates could overlook spring because it’s a small sample size, and they had seen enough of McDonald to trust him.
McPherson ONLY has a small sample size – his few starts last season and this spring. His most recent outing was encouraging as it appeared he was starting to put things together. He came into camp in great shape and was the rave of many in the Pirates organization.
Had he followed up that outing with another good one today, the Pirates would be in great shape. But he struggled more than I’ve seen a starter struggle this spring. And there’s not much time to make a better impression.
“It’s late,” Clint Hurdle said.
Here is your Good, Not-So-Good list…
Andrew McCutchen – He went 2 for 4 with a two-run homer, his second bomb of the spring.
Felix Pie – He went 2 for 2 with a run and raised his average to .324. He did, though, have an error in the field.
Jordy Mercer – Maybe it was the earlier addition of John McDonald, but Mercer went 2 for 3 with a run and a walk.
Michael McKenry – He went 1 for 1 with a run, a walk and three RBIs. He also made a spectacular catch in foul territory, nearly falling into the dugout.
Jared Hughes – He struck out one batter in one clean inning. It would be nice to see him, though, pitch to a more complete lineup. His past two outings have been pretty late in the game, when he’s not facing top-level talent.
Kyle McPherson – 4 2/3 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 3 SO, 2 HR.
Vin Mazzaro – I don’t know if Mazzaro will survive the next cut day. He allowed eight hits and six earned runs in one inning of work.
Tony Watson – I’ll have more from Watson in tomorrow’s morning post, but he had another rough outing, allowing three runs on three hits in one inning of work. That said, after giving up three consecutive hits/runs, it appeared he found his groove.
Starling Marte – He went 1 for 4 with three strikeouts.
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