The scorching hot Pittsburgh Pirates (doesn’t that sound funny?) will be without one of their bigger name players for the next couple of weeks as the team placed starting second baseman Neil Walker on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday afternoon. Walker sustained an injury to his right side during an at-bat on Saturday and had not played since, but it was a bit of a surprise to see him placed on the DL as many pundits believed he’d be returning soon.
Pittsburgh entered Tuesday night with a sparkling 53-35 record and a half-game deficit behind the Cardinals in the juggernaut NL Central (also funny to say), and even the loss of Walker shouldn’t slow them down too much. Walker has a .244/.347/.384 slash line with 6 home runs in 293 plate appearances this season, and while that’s far from terrible at a middle infield position, it is a step back from his peak of the last 3 years.
It has been reported that Walker’s “hold-up” with the injury is an inability to swing the bat from the left side, and that is a major problem (obviously) for the switch-hitting player. He has a career OPS over 140 points higher from the left-handed batter’s box, and if he can’t sustain success without pain on that side, he becomes a thoroughly average player.
Stay tuned for updates on Walker (and the progress of his replacement, Josh Harrison) in the coming days, but for now, the Pirates will try to get by without him.