McCutchen’s return should help to boost a Pirates offense that desperately needs a spark. After a hot 20-8 start to open the season, the club has cratered to a 41-51 record that puts in fourth place in the NL Central, 9.5 games back of the division-leading Brewers. That free-fall in the standings can be primarily attributed to an offense that ranks dead last in the majors since May 1 with a wRC+ of just 79, 21% below league average. As the team’s offense has slumped, McCutchen has maintained solid production with a .275/.399/.398 slash line in 208 plate appearances since the start of May.
While McCutchen’s steady veteran presence and an injection of youth from the likes of Henry Davis and Nick Gonzales have helped to steady the club’s offense somewhat, the Pirates will need improved performance from star outfielder Bryan Reynolds, who has slashed just .150/.209/.250 since returning from low back inflammation earlier this month. That performance has dropped his drop his wRC+ to just 109 this season, a far cry from the 133 wRC+ he offered the past two seasons.
More from around the NL Central…
- The Brewers announced today that they had placed third baseman Brian Anderson on the 10-day IL with a low back strain. It’s been a difficult season for Anderson as the 30 year old has slashed just .229/.317/.373 with a wRC+ of 90 in 85 games this season while acting as Milwaukee’s primary third baseman. Replacing Anderson on the roster is infielder Jahmai Jones, who kicked his Brewers career off by going 2-4 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base in five trips to the plate after signing with the club on a major league deal earlier this month. Infielder Andruw Monasterio figures to handle the hot corner while Anderson is on the shelf, with Jones sliding into Monasterio’s typical utility role.
- Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson is eligible to come off the IL for the first time today after suffering a left heel contusion just before the All-Star break. That being said, The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma relays that manager David Ross expects Swanson to be out for a least a little while longer. According to Ross, while Swanson’s heel improved over the break, he still is feeling “some pain” when running the bases. While Swanson is on the shelf, Nico Hoerner has slid from second base to shortstop, opening up the keystone for Christopher Morel.