The NL Central Is Still Up For Grabs At The Break

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Every Wednesday, the Fan Morning Show chats with Pirates broadcaster Bob Walk about all the happenings around the team. When the Pirates are at home (or on an All-Star break) Bob calls in from his home while sitting on the back porch and sipping his morning coffee.

Walk talked about some of the things he would like to see the Pirates do in the second half of the season and laid out some keys to success for the Bucs. He highlighted some of the bright spots to come out of the first 89 games of the season.

“Cutch is back to being as good as he’s ever been,” said Walk. “The way he played in June and hopefully he can do the same thing, he’s off to a good start, might be Player of the Month for the National League two months in a row. That’s going to help a lot. But, getting Marte back and hopefully Marte is the player that we want him to be, that would really help us out a lot.”

But, there are some things that need to change if the Pirates want to jump ahead in a still tight NL Central.

“The consistency on offense [overall] hasn’t been there really all year. You’ve seen some good efforts from them but we need more in that regard,” said Walk. “Also I think the bullpen, not necessarily the 9th inning I think that’s pretty much in good hands with Rivero but the 7th and the 8th inning still, to me, has to be proven that they can handle that and get on a basis where you’re not like,’OK we’ll see how this goes.'”

“There have been stretches where that looks fantastic, where the main four guys out there, the guys you expect to pitch the 7th, 8th and 9th inning get on a roll and do well. I don’t know if it’s too much of an expectation to have all four of them clicking all at the same time. But if you can get those four guys pitching the way they really are capable of pitching, then you can get a nice [bullpen] rotation where nobody is getting worn out, where everybody is getting a night off,” he said.

Walk says that the starting pitching rotation hasn’t really been an issue and says it will be good enough going forward.

“As long as the five guys that are in there now stay healthy, I think we have the pitching talent to be OK in the Central division that we’re in right now,” he said. “Maybe we’re not going to rip off a huge winning streak or anything like that but we’ve got two and a half months to make up seven games and can do a lot of that in this next home stand.”

The Pirates can’t be caught still relaxing coming out of the All-Star break, as Walk says these divisional games are vital to win.

“[These next seven games] are extremely important to me,” said Walk. “I know that a lot of people will downplay that importance to remove pressure a little bit. Maybe you don’t have to do what they did on the road and take three out of four, take two out of three, but it’s got to be something close to that to put yourself in a decent spot going on a West Coast road swing.”

Even more important with the July 31 trade deadline looming.

“The facts are the facts, the trading deadline is coming up here soon,” Walk said. “And a decision about, are we going to go for it this year or are we going trade some pieces and try to collect a couple of guys that might help us in the next couple of seasons, that’s going to have to happen real soon.”

Walk isn’t really buying the Brewers as NL Central leaders and questions how their second half will look, making the division all the more wide open.

“I don’t think they’re good enough to run away with it because their pitching just doesn’t have the track record to do that,” said Walk. “I think they’re good enough to play at a .500 level the rest of the way, maybe a couple of games over .500 you certainly have to give them that. So if they play .500 the rest of the way, what do you have to do to catch them? And that’s I think the reasonable goal.”

You can listen to the entire interview with Bob Walk from The Fan Morning Show on Wednesday below.

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