Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Marte Suspended 80 Games for PED Use; In Other News - Bucs at Cards, Kuhl v Mike Leake, Lineup, Notes, Osuna Called Up

The big news, of course, is Starling Marte's 80-game suspension for PED use, Nandrolone to be specific. The old-school (it's been a sports fav since the sixties) steroid promotes muscle growth, increased red blood cell production, and bone density. Marte apologized and cited "neglect and lack of knowledge" as his excuses. He'll be eligible to return to Pirates on July 18th, the week after the All-Star break and will be ineligible for the postseason if Pittsburgh makes it.

So now the Pirates are without Marte & Kang, both victims of their own knucklehead choices, and that about takes care of the middle of the order. We expect Adam Frazier should become the third outfielder for the time being (perhaps in platoon with J-Hay) with Cutch shifted back to center (although all that rearranging will be done on the fly; we're sure this was a bolt from the blue for Clint and Neal after the game last night). At Indy, Jose Osuna got the call to the show and is in St. Louis for the game tonight; no roster moves needed as Starling joined JHK on the reserved list.

And to think we were worried about RISP...

Sadly, not the only nosedive Starling has taken.

Tonight: The Bucs and Cards get it on at 8:15 from Busch Stadium and will be the MLB Network game (Root will show the Pens game if you're a sports surfer). They'll also be on 93.7 The Fan. Jose Osuna arrived in the clubhouse around 4:30 and the doors immediately shut behind him for a team meeting complete with a farewell speech by Starling. Welcome to the show, kid.

Adam Frazier RF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Josh Bell 1B, Jordy Mercer SS & Chad Kuhl P.  Starling's absence sure makes the two-hole problematic again.

Chad is on the bump (photo Joe Guzzy/Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (1-0, 2.38) bounced back from a drama-filled opener to smooth sailing in his last outing against Boston as he rides the usual rookie roller coaster. This will be a test for him and his progress. Kuhl worked seven innings against St. Louis last year in two relief outings and was rudely treated with a 6.43 ERA and sky-high WHIP of 2.286. The MLBN coverage will be small beans to Kuhl - remember, his first MLB start was on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" against Clayton Kershaw and that worked out just fine. Cool Chad will face Mike Leake (1-1, 0.60) who not only is smokin' hot to start the year (one run surrendered in 15 IP, with a nine-inning streak of goose eggs) but has always been a problem for Pittsburgh. He's 9-5/3.36 in 28 lifetime starts against the Pirates, the most he has against any MLB club, and has generally proven to be a thorn in the side of the Bucs. Pittsburgh may have solved him; he was 1-2/5.83 in four 2016 starts against them, so let's hope those numbers hold up.

  • Cutch has hit safely in eight straight games.
  • Everything's a streak - the Cards snapped a three-game losing streak and the Pirates three-game winning streak last night. 
  • Starting to come around: in their last five games, a complete rotation turn, Pirates starters have posted a 2.51 ERA while working into the seventh inning three times. For this season, the Bucco starters rank fifth in the NL with a 3.48 ERA.
Josh has been hit in the knee three times (and once in the thigh) in two days and just keeps on tickin' (photo/Getty Images)
  • J-Hay has been plunked six times this month. Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs has the gruesome details on vid. The April club record is seven, held by Jason Kendall, with the MLB high-water mark set at 10. 
  • Altoona LHP Brandon Waddell was placed on the seven-day minor-league DL with a left forearm strain. He's expected to skip one start and be back in action.
  • Former Bucco LHP JA Happ got a scare in his last outing for Toronto, leaving with elbow pain. He appears to have avoided the worst, tho - it was diagnosed as inflammation, and earned him a trip to the 10-day DL rather than to a surgeon.


michael kaczmarek said...

Another Dominican caught on Steroids. Unbelievable how Uneducated and stupid this is. It's on the players but why on Earth do the Teams not help & Educate these knuckle heads since they're making the teams a ton of cash and remind the players frequently this is ILLEGAL and will not be tolerated at all??? Doesn't make any sense. I said years ago when Team President F.C. himself got busted on a DUI himself that bad things were going to follow with the players. I know that's a horrible comparison but my point is honestly I think this franchise is jinxed, cursed or has some severe black cloud hanging over it. Nutting needs to grow a set of you know what and totally clean house. F.C./N.H. both need gone. The Horrible trades by N.H. The past 2 yrs and non moves the past two years, F.C. himself...Uuuggggg he's useless. Kang, now Marte. Change is needed and sooner the better. I'm probably overreacting a little but the point is they're never going to win with the current staff, so why keep a losing group??? A newer front office staff and team President is needed ASAP- IMO.

Ron Ieraci said...

One thing I've always wondered, Mike, is whether the league/union evaluates the stuff that players take. I know there's an approved supplement list, but I don't know if they advise guys on product that's not on it. Irregardless, what Starling and Jung-Ho did were both knucklehead moves; I don't know that u can hold the FO responsible. I do know in Kang's case that he lied (at least by omission) about previous booze-related issues; dunno if Marte was self-treating his ankle or simply trying to add some muscle & power to his game.
The trades and FA work are glasses half full IMO. There have been clunkers for sure, but Cervelli - Rivero - Nova look good so far. Signing AJ and Frankie were solid too. But as u noted they do work on a tightrope; they have to live with their mistakes until some more money is shaken loose for Huntington & Co to work with. That makes the bad deals tougher to live with and is a function of ownership.

michael kaczmarek said...

Yes good point, guess it starts with Nutting obviously. And not saying N.H. Hasn't done well over all, because he has, but the last 2 years he hasn't at all. We have nothing to show for giving away A the Pgh. kid N.W. And we have John Jaso/ Bastardo this year again. Horrible IMO. On another note while the black clouds overhead; Charlie Morton faced off vs Jesse Chavez last night in Houston. Why do I bring this up? Morton has been really good for Houston and Chavez has-been really solid his past couple years wheverer he's been. Both ex-buccos. Combine that with the Haap (mishap) and there is 3 pitchers gone bye bye that are working out elsewhere really well. IDK just seems the team is cursed. But if it's strictly money then guess your right wouldn't matter who's in charge sadly......

michael kaczmarek said...

Just wanted to clarify that N.W. Was basically traded for Bastardo for those that don't know it was originally for John Niese who cannot pitch at all & then the swap for Bastardo. Basically nothing for Neil Walker. And they had the $$ for J.Haap so that's why I say horrible moves and non-moves by N.H. past two years

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Mike, I would have liked to see some effort to bring back guys like Happ, Eddie Volquez, Joe Blanton etc. I was always a Charlie Morton fan, but having said that, his inconsistency drove me nuts sometimes. And talk about your black cloud - the guys fielded behind him like a bunch of rummies. Chavez has been a decent back-ender; maybe he was miscast here as a long guy. Every team has its shining moments and black sheep, lol. My hope for Pittsburgh is that they get a good TV contract next time they negotiate with Root Sports; of all the bad deals u mentioned, that may have been the worst.