The Pittsburgh Pirates begin a series against the Tampa Bay Rays tonight and Andrew McCutchen will be in a familiar spot.

The Pittsburgh Pirates tweeted out their lineup today and normally that isn’t really newsworthy. However, today the lineup has the return of Andrew McCutchen to the third spot in the batting order.

Earlier in the season, McCutchen struggled big time as the team’s three-hitter. In 170 at-bats as a three-hitter this season, he hit .200/.271/.359/.630. He looked absolutely lost at the plate and the talk of a bounce back season disappeared.

McCutchen was then moved down to the six spot in the order and something magically seemed to happen. To paraphrase Frosty the Snowman, “There was still some magic in that old bat.” As the team’s six-hitter McCutchen came alive. In 100 at-bats, he hit .380/.471/.690/1.161 with 14 extra-base hits, including eight home runs. He looked like the player that had four straight top 5 MVP finishes from 2012 through 2015.

This move is likely going to inspire a lot of debate. Should the Pirates keep McCutchen where he’s been most productive or should you move him up in the order in an attempt to give him more opportunities with men on base? Clint Hurdle apparently wants to maximize McCutchen’s at-bats as he is back as the team’s three-hitter.

How this will impact McCutchen and the Pirates will reveal itself in the coming days ahead. It’s important to remember that one game will not define this decision. McCutchen could go 4-4 tonight and this decision eventually proves to be the wrong one. Or he can go 0-4 and the decision is eventually proven to be correct. Nothing will be decided tonight. The only thing known is that for at least tonight and likely moving forward, Andrew McCutchen is back as the number-three hitter of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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Steve Kubitz

Steve Kubitz was born and raised in the Stanton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. He is a long time and annoyingly positive baseball fan. He bought into the Pirates’ 5-year-plan before it was cool. He is best known for staying calm about losing streaks on twitter and trying his best to make sure other fans don’t overreact to when the Pirates lose a tough ballgame to a division rival. The only thing he isn’t positive about is the wave during close ballgames.

  • redrage97

    The pirates have a problem with not having any true proven 3/4 hitters on the roster. Bell should be that guy at some point if he busts out of this slump. Osuna looks like he could be that guy at some point and maybe Diaz if he keeps it up. Polanco has been in a horrible way this year… though it looks like he may have gotten over that skiddish “I don’t want to get hurt” issue he had in the field. But they need to either figure it out or send him down to get him right soon.

    IF (capitals there) Kang and marte where here it would be easier because you would have Marte, Kang, Cutch and Bell looking to get those 3/4/5/6 spots somewhere.

    IF (more capitals) everyone was playing near what we expected from the start the pirates would be .500 now.