Breaking down the Pirates-Blue Jays weekend series
The Pirates are piling up outs at an alarming rate this season, ranking 26th in the majors in on-base-percentage (.296) and 27th in runs (96) entering play Thursday.
The last time the Bucs had such a lousy OBP?
A century ago, when the 1914 club got on base at a .295 clip during the Dead Ball Era.
This weekend's series with the Blue Jays, who have the majors' fifth-worst team ERA (4.64), could be a panacea for the Pirates' run-scoring woes.
But to take advantage of Toronto's wild pitching staff, some of the Bucs' young hitters will have to learn the power of patience.
Blue Jays pitchers have issued 4.3 walks per nine innings, making them the most control-challenged staff this side of the White Sox (4.5 BB/9).
Friday's scheduled starter, Brandon Morrow, has the highest walk rate (6.45 BB.9) of any starter tossing 20-plus innings.
Saturday starter R.A. Dickey (4.58 BB/9) can't seem to corral his knuckleball, and Sunday starter Dustin McGowan (3.91 BB/9) also is handing out more free passes than the MLB average (3.2 BB/9).
Morrow and Dickey are throwing considerably fewer pitches over the plate than the MLB average, as are a quartet of Jays relievers:
Pitcher Zone Pct.
Neil Wagner 39.4
Sergio Santos 41.6
Steve Delabar 44.1
Brandon Morrow 45.4
R.A. Dickey 45.9
Chad Jenkins 46.0
MLB Avg. 47.0
Shortstop Jordy Mercer, sporting the lowest OBP (.222) among Pirates regulars, and Starling Marte (.308 OBP, 35 points below 2013) should be happy to see the Jays.
But they'll only boost their OBPs if they can show better strike-zone control: Mercer (35 percent chase rate) and Marte (31.9) are both swinging at more pitches thrown off the plate than the MLB average (29 percent).
David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.