There have been few mistakes made by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the month of July. Winners in 12 of their last 14 games, nearly everything has gone right for the Bucs.
However, after an exciting five game sweep over the Milwaukee Brewers to end the first half of the season and a dominant three game sweep over the Cincinnati Reds fresh out of the all-star break, the Bucs exited their most recent series against the Cleveland Indians on a tad more worrisome note.
No, I am not referring to their 4-0 loss against the first-place Indians on Wednesday afternoon.
What I am concerned about are the players who were in the lineup for the Pirates in that loss.
I understand that afternoon games are always a time where Clint Hurdle decides to rest his veteran players. With the Cleveland series already won and an important four-game set against the New York Mets approaching, I have no problem with Hurdle trotting out the “Sunday lineup”.
The only issue is, Hurdle didn’t play his bench players on Wednesday because he wanted to, he played them because he had no other choice.
After Corey Dickerson exited the game on Tuesday due to a hamstring issue and Starling Marte was taken out of the lineup the following day after being hit by a pitch on the hand in the first inning, the once red-hot Pirates outfield had turned into a dare I say it, a liability.
When a team is fighting for a spot in the postseason, every game is important.
Regardless of who or when you are playing, the goal should always be to have your best lineup possible on the field. Like I said earlier, I understand that veteran players need an off day every now and then. Even players as hot as Dickerson and Marte will need a maintenance day to either recover from a nagging injury or just to regather their energy.
If the Pittsburgh Pirates want to have the best roster possible, their fourth outfielder should be Austin Meadows.
At the end of the day, Meadows is simply much better than both Luplow and Frazier. While I realize Luplow has earned a chance to make a name for himself in the big league and Frazier has more experience, Meadows is the guy who gives you a better chance to win.
The fact that Meadows was sent down in the first place was essentially swept under the rug due to the Pirates 11-game win streak.
When everyone is healthy, this team can clearly win without him. However, entering Thursday, the overall status of Dickerson and Marte remains in question.
Having player like Meadows ready and waiting to contribute is something the Pirates would be foolish not to take advantage of right now.
With his super two status no longer in question and the team beginning a four-game series against a very below average opponent, now is the perfect time to get their top outfield prospect some starts at the major league level.
If the Pirates call him up, Meadows would be the best overall player on the Pirates bench.
A player with his bat, glove and speed would be welcomed as a fourth outfielder for any team in baseball.
While getting every day reps in the minor leagues keeps him fresh, this team is fighting to stay relevant.
Having Meadows on their roster over Luplow or Frazier will give them a better chance to do so.