First Pitch: This Would Be the Perfect Time For a Pedro Alvarez Hot Streak

On Friday, I looked at the drop the Pittsburgh Pirates saw in their playoff odds. A big reason for this drop was due to their 1-5 week, when everyone else in the NL Central or NL Wild Card race had big weeks. Fortunately, the Pirates are in a position where they control their own destiny. They are currently in a stretch of games that includes nine games against the Brewers and Cardinals in the span of a week and a half. If they can do well in those games, they can reverse what happened last week by having a good record while giving their opponents a bad record during that same time span.

So far, so good after the last two nights.

The Pirates have taken two of three from Milwaukee, in Milwaukee. Tomorrow they go for the sweep, with the chance to move to three games back in the NL Central. Earlier this week it looked like they had no shot at all for the division. This big series could have pulled them back into that race.

It’s hard to ignore the huge impact that Pedro Alvarez had tonight. It’s also hard to not dream about the Pirates’ lineup if Alvarez goes on one of his patented hot streaks that seem to happen about two months after every season. Consider…

**They just got their MVP, Andrew McCutchen, back from an injury. Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer are also back and healthy.

**Travis Snider has stepped up in a big way lately, earning his playing time over Gregory Polanco in right field.

**Josh Harrison continues to be the biggest surprise on the team this season, and looks like a guy who should be a starter at third base.

**Russell Martin has always had the defense, but is having a career year offensively this season. The only season in his career that was better than the current one offensively? 2007.

**Starling Marte started the year on a slow note, but since mid-June (when Polanco arrived) he has a .933 OPS, not counting tonight’s game.

The Pirates are getting production from every position. Russell Martin is a two-way catcher this year. Neil Walker is having a career year. Jordy Mercer and Starling Marte have been great since June. Travis Snider has been great lately. Josh Harrison continues his breakout season. Andrew McCutchen is his usual MVP self.

If you add Alvarez in that mix at first, while he’s going on one of his month-long power tears, then this is an offense that can be downright dangerous, as we saw tonight.

This could just be one good night from Alvarez. But you hope that it’s more than just one night, especially with some of the most important games of the year coming up. With everyone else firing on all cylinders, this would be the perfect time for Pedro to come up with another hot streak.

Links and Notes

**The 2014 Prospect Guide is on sale in the Pirates Prospects store. The paperback version has dropped to $14.99 plus shipping. We currently only have one case of books remaining, and the offer is only valid while the books are in stock. There is also an eBook version available for $9.99. The 2013 Prospect Guide is on clearance for $1.

**Prospect Watch: Sadler and Garcia Pitch Great, Glasnow Off His Game

**The Surprising Season A.J. Morris Has Had on the Mound

**Morning Report: A Sleeper Prospect in Bristol

  • Let’s just say that pedro has figured it out and becomes a solid first basemen, he is still not a viable long term option. We have been waiting so long for pedro to figure it all out that his time has run out. Best case scenario is that he becomes the firstbasemen that the pirates have needed for a long time, if that’s the case the pirates can’t keep him and will be forced to trade him. If he falls flat then the pirates are still forced to trade him only then he is the pirates version of ike davis. Whichever way pedro goes the pirates cannot afford him.

    • Let’s see how the 1B experiment goes. But it is pretty much guaranteed Pedro will not sign a longterm deal with the Pirates. Get rid of Ike. Pedro should be the LH part of the 1B platoon in 2015. You can look to trade him in 2016 before he becomes a FA.

  • Every time Pedro hits a HR people get sucked right back in.
    Friday and before everybody wanted him gone now people are defending him and dreaming of some Ruthian heroics where he leads the Pirates to glory.
    Dream on because reality is going to jump up and bite you on the behind.

    • Well, he does have that power. This is his worst year to date and the kid still manages 20 HRs. Not a large leap to think him playing 1B against RHP may allow him to focus on hitting and hit 35-40 HRs like….last year.

  • I want to get excited about Pedro. I can’t just yet. Hurdle correctly played his “power vs power” hunch and Pedro did deliver. But how many more pitchers will Bucs face who throw 2/3 fastballs and don’t have a real changeup? Plus, both pitches Pedro hammered were belt high, the first right down the middle, the second outer half.

    I fully expect Pedro to continue seeing more off-speed slop in lower half of zone. And until he learns to stay back and go with those, IMO, he’ll continue to be the 2014 Pedro, not the late 2013 version. But, if last night gives him more confidence, then maybe we’ll see a turn around. Maybe.

  • IMO, as a team the Pirates are maturing just fine, but as individuals they still have three or four players that have a ways to go, but the talent is there. I don’t think Pedro, Marte, Polanco, Mercer or Snyder are anywhere near as mature are they can get. Heaven help the rest of the league when they reach maturity. This team is going to be something in a year or two no matter who they lose in the off-season. In Pedro’s case, it is a double edged sword, if he produces to his ability, the Pirates can’t pay him, if he does not, he is not worth much. I think that Pedro and Martin are the two players that the Pirates would like to keep, but can’t, I think they can sign the rest of their players. Pedro will be toughest to lose because he has not gotten anywhere near the top of his game, Martin is at the top and the only way to go for him is down in the next couple of years. When I speak of maturity, I am talking about a team that can win without a mature leader such as Martin, because the rest of the team is/has grown up.

  • Scott Kliesen
    August 24, 2014 6:32 am

    This game is a prime example why Pedro needs to be starting over Ike. He has the ability to come up big in big games. I’m hoping now that he doesn’t have to worry about making throwing errors, his mind will be in the right place. Because when he’s on, nobody on the team is a more feared hitter.

    • SK: Totally agree – down the stretch in 2013 Aug and Sep – 12 doubles, 2 triples, 9 HR’s, 30 RBI’s. Then in the Postseason he led the team in hitting, batting .300 with a double, 3 HR’s, 7 RBI’s, and an OPS of 1.148. His presence forces other managers to make adjustments, and you can bet that they all have the stats that I have just listed. During games, a manager has to choose who to go after, especially during the stretch where the results of one game are magnified. He and ‘Cutch are feared.

      • Uh, before this one game he wasnt feared at all. He was “hey, throw him 2 changups and a curveball and watch him swing”. I think Pedro is worth one more year at 1B, but lets not act like opposing teams arent aware that 4 straight offspeed pitches is likely to produce a K.

  • Tim: Pedro has had a whole lot of his game challenged in 2014, but if he is in the lineup, he will still be on track for a 25 HR season, and is learning the ropes at 1B on the run. Both HR’s were gap to gap hits to LC and both left the field with authority. I sure hope the light bulb goes off for him because the Pirates need it and they need it right now. And, if we go the rest of the way with him at 1B full time, except for rest games, I would not be upset. Regardless of what Pedro does down the stretch, I do not see Davis returning in 2015, and I have my doubts about Gaby Sanchez. Harrison is thriving at 3B and needs to stay there for now and in the future. He reminds me of Bill “Mad Dog” Madlock. This is much more than just a breakout season for him starting with the birth of his first child, selection to the All Star Game, and becoming a fan favorite in Pittsburgh. This lineup is absolutely loaded and deep with Pedro hitting 6th with Marte and Mercer following him. I would also like to see Gregory Polanco pick it up again and finish strong.

    • Scott Kliesen
      August 24, 2014 6:37 am

      Polanco will be back in lineup very soon. He is key piece to this team reaching its offensive potential down the stretch.

    • Spot on re Harrison… The Madlock comparison popped into my head last night, too. Both are/were short and stocky, free swinging, with high BAs. While Mad Dog was a great doubles hitter, Jay Hey may actually have a bit more power. Of course, MD was, arguably, the final key piece added to put the ’79 team over the top. Let’s hope we look back at JH’s unforeseen emergence as our starting star 3B and can say the same thing!

    • Will I see how J-Hay reminds you of Madlock that might be a bit premature. Mad Dog hit at a high level right from the time he was called up in his age 22 season. He also walked more than he struckout and finished his career with .305/.365.442 slash line which was good for an OPS+ of 123. J-Hay has long way to go to be Madlock.

      • Appearance-wise is all the further I care to go at this point. He is in the same mold as Mad Dog because they are 3B without big power numbers and 3B is a power position. I doubted he could keep it up simply based on his performances in previous years where he would go strong and then disappear. This year he went out strong and has maintained that pace.

        • I never understood when 3rd base became a power position. Six of the
          eleven Hall of Fame 3rd basemen have fewer than 125 home runs. It is
          still the hot corner and a vital fielding position. I would rather have a line drive hitter with a good glove than a slugger with marginal fielding ability at 3rd any day.

  • Yep, it would be a huge bonus for his current team as well as improving his trade value for the off season, it’s a perfect scenario for a win,win situation. Go pedro go,then just go.

    • Scott Kliesen
      August 24, 2014 6:34 am

      Trade Pedro and keep Ike? That’s crazy talk!

      • No – trade Pedro. Any other decisions are independent of that. It’s not like he will ever sign a long term deal, and we have seen the down side to him this year – if you can get a good offer – take it.

        • If the downside is really poor defense that doesnt make the offense play at 3rd, moving him to 1st fixes that. He could be a valuable part of the team as an average defensive 1Bmen with good enough offense as a RHH side of a platoon. Unless he does go on a full month hot streak, trading him at low value makes us look desperate. Having Pedro shift to first and focus mostly on offense for one year sounds like a fun idea to me.

        • Scott Kliesen
          August 24, 2014 6:16 pm

          He is reigning HR champ in NL. A wise team doesn’t discard an asset w those credentials after one down seAson.

          • Whether pedro is good or bad he has priced and played himself out of pittsburgh.

            • Scott Kliesen
              August 25, 2014 10:10 am

              Not according to NH. He basically reiterated what I said about not giving up on a reigning HR champ after a bad season.

      • Ok scott, let’s say pedro figures it out and becomes a good firstbaseman, he still is not a long term solution at first since he only has two years left. The pirates and we as fans have been waiting so long for pedro to figure it all out that his time has run out whether he figures it out or not. If he is as succesful as we all hope the pirates can’t afford him and conversly is he stinks nodoby else will want him and he winds up being the pirates version of ike davis. It’s not a pretty scenario either way. So I ask respectfully what’s your solution?

        • Scott Kliesen
          August 24, 2014 6:15 pm

          Play him at 1B next season vs RHP and keep him there until Josh Bell is ready to assume the job.

          • Sounds good until you factor in the cost of the first base platoon next year, whether it’s pedro and gabby or ike and gabby they will cost about ten mil. The pirates could get a good two way first bagger for roughly that amount and free up a roster spot.( insert your trade candidate for first here.)

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