It is indisputable that Andrew McCutchen is the most indispensable player on the Pittsburgh Pirates' roster. The center fielder was the National League's Most Valuable Player last season and has played like an MVP again this year.
But the Pirates are going to have to do without McCutchen for a month because of a strained oblique muscle he suffered Sunday against the Diamondbacks at Phoenix. He will be placed on the disabled list Tuesday.
It is unquestionably a blow to the Pirates' chances of reaching the postseason for a second consecutive year. But it is not necessarily a death blow.
Both left fielder Starling Marte and right fielder Gregory Polanco were above-average defensive center fielders in the minor leagues. Some scouts insist both are better in the field than McCutchen.
Travis Snider has played much better of late and could fill in at one of the corner spots. He won't match McCutchen's production, but he can at least help soften the blow for a while if he continues swinging the bat as well as he has over the last month
McCutchen has never been on the disabled list in his six-year career. It remains to be seen how the Pirates play will react to playing without their on-field leader.
But the Pirates have proven to a resilient bunch this season. They have overcome an awful start and the absence of Gerrit Cole, their best starting pitcher, for an extended period.
That is why it is too soon to think about writing their obituary.