The Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers both started the 2014 Major League Baseball season winning five of their first seven games and hoping to set the table to a National League Central division battle. Since then both teams have gone the opposite directions as the Brewers won seven of their next ten games while the Pirates lost seven of their next ten. Four of those losses came at the hands of the Brewers. Now the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking for revenge.
Two games into a four game set with the Brew Crew, Pittsburgh finally took a game against Milwaukee Thursday night at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, crushing the Brewers 11-2. The Brewers returned the following day, beating the Pirates 5-3. The day was not a total loss though as just a couple of hours before game time Pittsburgh announced they had traded for slugging first basemen Ike Davis.
Davis hit 32 home runs and had 90 RBI in 2012 before slumping last season and losing his way in New York. That can happen to a player, especially in New York and Hurdle is counting on a change of scenery re-charging Davis’ career.
“Part of our plan is we go out and acquire guys who have had success and aren’t maybe in the best places right now,” Hurdle said. “Sometimes a change of scenery, sometimes a different environment can help things play out.”
AJ Burnett is the example and the result the Pirates are hoping for. Burnett was a talented hard throwing starter who had struggled with the New York Yankees. Once he got out of the Bronx and landed in Pittsburgh his career blossomed again. So too did the Pirates’ fortunes. Clearly the Pirates are hoping for something similar with Davis.
They could use it right now. The Brewers have been a superior team thus far as Pittsburgh struggles to find their identity. If Davis gets back on track it gives the Pirates a badly needed threat in the middle of their lineup to help protect Andrew McCutchen who has just one home run this season and is hitting .266. Those are not the numbers of an MVP and at the moment Starling Marte has not given opposing pitchers a second thought about pitching around McCutchen. Marte has struck out a whopping 26 times this season with one home run as well. Acquiring Davis and getting his bat rolling again is not an act of luxury for the Bucs, it is a necessity. They need him to hit.
If the Pirates are going to get some revenge against the Brewers they will also need starter Wandy Rodriguez to find some zip on his fastball again. Pittsburgh is concerned about the usually reliable right-hander, who has seen his velocity drop this season. Rodriguez is not a power pitcher anyway so losing a couple of miles per hour off his fastball lessens his margin of error. Case in point. He gave up three home runs in five innings against the Reds in his last start and has surrendered six home runs in just 16 innings this season. Rodriguez is coming off a forearm injury that caused him to miss the final four months of the 2013 season but the Pirates cannot afford to wait much longer on a player that is not going to be able to contribute.
This is not the Pittsburgh Pirates of a few a seasons ago. This franchise expects to contend now. A little revenge against leader of the division would help the Pirates feel a little better about their current standing.
Commentary by Mick Varner
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Pittsburgh Pirates