Welcome to a much more optimistic edition of Pirates Breakdown’s Stock Report, at least compared to last week’s review of the team. In a week when the Pirates faced two tough clubs in Washington and Milwaukee, the team was able to win seven of their games including a doubleheader against the Brewers on Saturday.
The Pirates were able to inch closer to an even record after a tremendous stretch of victories over the division leading Brewers and a very formidable opponent in the Nationals. The team received some great starts from the rotation and a power surge by the offense so here are the players that were on the rise last week and one who was a roster casualty because of the team’s improved play.
Whose Stock is Rising
Jameson Taillon turned in one of his most dominant performances of the season against the Brewers on July 12th. He limited Milwaukee to just four hits and one run, a solo shot by Jesus Aguilar in the fourth inning. Taillon struck out a career high ten hitters in his start and only walked two, which is a little lower than his walks per nine innings this season. He closed out the first half of the season with a strong start and will take a 6-7 record and an ERA of 3.91 into mid July while also leading the team with 103 strikeouts. The Pirates may decide to shuffle the pitching rotation around, but Taillon should see his first start after the break when the team visits Great American Ballpark for a weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Not everyone in the rotation received two starts last week, but Nick Kingham did and he made the most of it. He earned victories on July 8th and in the first game of the July 13th doubleheader, while also giving the club two quality starts. In a total of 12.1 innings he allowed nine hits and four runs to go along with just two walks and a robust 14 strikeouts. He did surrender three home runs in those innings and has now given up seven in his past five starts. But Kingham will definitely see his fair share of starts once play resumes later next week.
There were a lot of impressive offensive performances last week, but Gregory Polanco’s power outburst is notable because of his struggles earlier in the season. He slashed .286/.333/.857 and hit four home runs in that span, including going back to back with his fellow outfielder Starling Marte in both games of Saturday’s doubleheader. Polanco’s production has been uneven this season, so his current hot streak should be approached with caution. But if he can continue to hit like this out of the gate when baseball begins again, he would be a crucial part of the team’s chances to get back into the postseason discussion.
Whose Stock is Falling
Because of how well Polanco and the other outfielders were playing, Austin Meadows unfortunately saw his playing time decrease dramatically, until it eventually ended in a return to Indianapolis for the highly touted prospect. Meadows last started on July 8th and was only seeing sporadic playing time late in games most recently, so it made sense to demote him to the International League so that he can receive more consistent playing time. For the record, Meadows slashed .298/.333/.477 with five home runs in 151 at-bats during his inaugural appearance in the Major Leagues. Meadows will be back with the Pirates at some point this season, and much of the timing depends on what happens over the next few weeks.