Pregame: Neil Walker and Josh Harrison updates, Pirates position players project well for rest of 2014

Justin K. Aller

Harrison update

Clint Hurdle said that Josh Harrison went through "different testing and drills" today and that he is improved from last night.

He is not a candidate for the disabled list, and is "possible" for coming off the bench tonight.

No starter announced

"No need to announce a starter for Sunday," was Hurdle's response when asked about rotation plans.

Walker update

Neil Walker was back in the Pirates' clubhouse before the game. He said that his "wounds are healing normally."

Walker said that he felt cramps about 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, which got progressively worse.

Before his surgery, Walker said that he told the doctor to "hurry up" because he was still going to try to play.

Cole update

Gerrit Cole took his scheduled bullpen session this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Hurdle did not have a report on how it went when we met with him at 3:45.

Pirates position players projected to be near top in National League ... Pitchers?

According to Fangraphs Rest of Season projections (ROS), Pirates' position players rank in the top-third (fourth) in terms of projected WAR contribution in the National League, 14.1. However, Pirates' pitchers are expected to rank in the bottom-third (10th), adding only 4.4 WAR.

Overall, the Pirates rank in the top-half (6th), with 18.6 WAR.

One caveat: the Fangraphs depth chart only projects Gregory Polanco as receiving 84 plate appearances and adding 0.2 WAR. His projected offensive slash line is .260/.309/.386. Those numbers seem low across the board.

If we adjust things, and give Polanco the same level of performance as Starling Marte (1.4 WAR in 272 PA), and make appropriate deductions for Tabata/Snider receiving less playing time, Pirates' position players reach around 15 WAR, which would rank them first in the National League, fourth in baseball.

Now, all of this should be probably taken with a grain of salt, but the overall point is that the Pirates have a very formidable group of position players now.

This brings us back to the conversation we were having yesterday, should the Bucs consider adding a starting pitching sooner than later? Or, should they be conservative, try to keep their heads above water for the next month, and reevaluate in July?

Certainly everything depends on what's available and at what cost.

Like I said yesterday, I prefer the latter option, but looking at this lineup and its expected performance, it is becoming an increasingly interesting question.

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