Series Preview: The Cubs

Current record: 58-43, 2nd place in NL Central, 3.0 games back

Up Next: Chicago Cubs, 42-58, 5th place in NL Central, 14.5 games back

Season Series: 4-2 (3-0, 1-2)

Notes: After taking 3 of 4 from the last place team in the Central, the Bucs climb one rung up the ladder to face the Cubs. Chicago is known to be looking to make trades, so the make up of their team could chage in a big way before Tuesday night’s game. Rookie 1B Anthony Rizzo has an .884 OPS since his call up.

Familiar Faces: Paul Maholm

Probable Pitchers
Monday: LH Erik Bedard (5-11, 100.0 IP, 93 K, 4.32 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
vs. RH Justin Germano (0-1, 8.2 IP, 8 K, 1.04 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)

Germano will be making his first start of the season. Bedard had his turn pushed back two days so that Wandy Rodriguez could take his normal turn on Saturday.

Tuesday: RH A.J. Burnett (12-3, 115.0 IP, 94 K, 3.52 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
vs. RH Ryan Dempster (5-5, 104.0 IP, 83 K, 2.25 ERA, 1.04 WHIP)

Tuesday is the trade deadline, so it’s possible that Dempster could be gone before he pitches against the Pirates. The word is that he’ll only accept a trade to the Dodgers.

Wednesday: RH Jeff Karstens (3-2, 51.0 IP, 38 K, 3.88 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
vs. LH Travis Wood (4-6, 77.2 IP, 54 K, 4.98 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)

No lineups yet.

Series Preview: The Brewers

Current record: 48-37, 1st place in NL Central, 1.0 game ahead

Up Next: Milwaukee Brewers, 40-45, 4th place in NL Central, 8.0 games back

Season Series: 2-1

Notes: Finally, baseball is back from the All Star break. The last time the Pirates went to Milwaukee they had just gotten to .500 at 25-25. They’re record since then has been a lights out 23-12. Milwaukee was 5 games under then and is still 5 games under now. Ryan Braun leads his team in almost as many hitting categories as Andrew McCutchen leads the Pirates

Familiar Faces: Nyjer Morgan, Aramis Ramirez, Cesar Izturis, Jose Veras

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH James McDonald (9-3, 110.0 IP, 100 K, 2.37 ERA, 0.97 WHIP)
vs. RH Zack Greinke (9-3, 111.0 IP, 111 K, 3.32 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)

Two aces go against each other. This could be one of Greinke’s last starts for the Brewers, as he’s been named in several trade rumors.

Saturday: RH Kevin Correia (5-6, 91.1 IP, 35 K, 4.34 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
vs. Marco Estrada (0-3, 51.0 IP, 55 K, 4.06 ERA, 1.02 WHIP)

Underwhelming! Estrada’s actually pitched pretty well since returning from a quad injury. Correia’s been put in this spot so that his softer stuff can serve as a buffer between the similar repertoires of McDonald and…

Sunday: RH A.J. Burnett (10-2, 93.0 IP, 79 K, 3.68 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
vs. Yovani Gallardo (7-6, 108.1 IP, 107 K, 3.74 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)

I’m looking forward to seeing this one live. That’s right! I’m road tripping to Milwaukee this weekend with my wife. We’ll be visiting the esteemable @Wezen_ball and his lovely fiance. After that we’re going to spend the rest of the week in Chicago, so postings may not fall on a regular schedule, if at all. Expect plenty of pictures when I can upload them.

Series Preview: The Giants

Current record: 46-36, 1st place in NL Central, 2.0 games ahead

Up Next: San Francisco Giants, 45-38, 2nd place in NL West, 1.5 games back

Season Series: 1-2

Notes: The last time the Pirates faced the Giants they scored eight runs in three games. Two months later the Bucs are playing like a totally different team. These three games will close out the season series with the Giants. The Pirates are lucky to miss All Star Matt Cain, who could start the game on Tuesday. If so, he’ll be joining teammates Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera.

Familiar Faces: Ryan Vogelsong, Javier Lopez

Probable Pitchers
Friday: LH Barry Zito (6-6, 93.2 IP, 52 K, 3.84 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (4-9, 82.2 IP, 77 K, 4.57 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)

A battle of struggling lefties.

Saturday: RH Ryan Vogelsong (7-3, 103.2 IP, 72 K, 2.26 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (8-3, 103.0 IP, 90 K, 2.45 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)

Against all odds, Vogelsong has become a good, consistent pitcher late in his career. He’s held opponents to 2 ER runs or less in 11 of his 15 starts and never more than 4 ER allowed.

Sunday: TBA (3-9, 93.2 IP, 101 K, 6.08 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (9-2, 86.2 IP, 74 K, 3.74 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)

This is Tim Lincecum‘s turn to pitch, but as of last night he hasn’t been announced as the starter. Last time out he allowed 7 ER in only 3.1 IP, so the Giants may be considering resting him. I listed his numbers above.

No lineups yet.

Series Preview: The Astros

Current record: 42-36, 2nd place in NL Central, 1.0 game back

Up Next: Houston Astros, 32-47, 6th place in NL Central, 11.5 games back

Season Series: 2-1

Notes: The last time the Pirates faced the Astros both teams were 14-17 and tied
for 3rd place. Now the two teams are separated by 10.5 games in the standings.
Firstbaseman Carlos Lee just turned down a trade to the Dodgers. 2B Jose Altuve
was chosen as Houston’s lone representative for the All Star Game.

Familiar Faces: Chris Snyder, Brian Bixler

Probable Pitchers
Monday: RH Jordan Lyles (2-4, 51.0 IP, 30 K, 4.59 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (7-3, 96.0 IP, 86 K, 2.44 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)

Tuesday: RH Lucas Harrell (7-6, 97.2 IP, 56 K, 4.33 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (9-2, 81.2 IP, 69 K, 3.31 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

Wednesday: LH Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 20.0 IP, 8 K, 1.35 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (4-6, 85.1 IP, 34 K, 4.32 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)

Thursday: RH Bud Norris (5-5, 79.0 IP, 82 K, 4.90 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. RH Jeff Karstens (1-2, 24.0 IP, 16 K, 5.25 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)

No lineups yet.

Pirates All-Stars: McCutchen and Hanrahan

MLB just announced the teams for the 2012 All Star Game in Kansas City. The Pirates representatives are OF Andrew McCutchen and closer Joel Hanrahan.

McCutchen is not just the best player on the Pirates, he’s one of the best players in the National League. Cutch is currently leading the team in R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, Avg, OBP and SLG. Whew, that’s a heavy load. Andrew has a chance to start the game since elected starter Matt Kemp will not play because of a hamstring injury.

Hanrahan has nailed down 20 saves this year on the back of a 2.10 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 10.5 K/9

Not being named to the team were starters James McDonald and A.J. Burnett. JMac is a real surprise. He has become the ace of the Pirates staff with a 2.44 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 8.1 K/9. Burnett’s numbers don’t stand out in the same way (3.31, 1.24, 7.6) but it was thought that his comeback story this year might help get him some votes. Both players could be named to the team if other players bow out due to injury or rest requirements.

Series Preview: The Phillies

Current record: 38-33, 2nd place in NL Central, 1.0 game back

Up Next: Philadelphia Phillies, 34-40, 5th place in NL East, 9.0 games back

Season Series: 2-1

Notes: The Phillies are not the powerhouse team that has won the NL East for the past five seasons. 1B Ryan Howard has not played yet after rupturing his Achilles in last year’s playoffs. 2B Chase Utley has been out all year with chronic knee issues, but may make his season debut this week. Fill-in second baseman Freddy Galvis is out for the season with a back injury and was just hit with a 50 game PED suspension too. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay is out until at least late July with a strain in the back of his shoulder. Still, the Phils have a few dangerous bats in Hunter Pence (.271/.334/.458) and Carlos Ruiz (.351/.420/.569).

Familiar Faces: Ty Wigginton, Erik Kratz

Probable Pitchers
Monday: RH Jeff Karstens (0-1, 12.0 IP, 5 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. RH Joe Blanton (6-6, 91.0 IP, 74 K, 5.04 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

Karstens makes his return to the rotaion after missing over two months with shoulder and hip injuries.

Tuesday: LH Erik Bedard (4-7, 72.0 IP, 69 K, 4.13 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. RH Vance Worley (3-4, 68.0 IP, 61 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

Wednesday: RH James McDonald (6-3, 90.1 IP, 83 K, 2.19 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)
vs. TBA

The Phillies played a doubleheader yesterday and haven’t announced their starters for Wednesday or Thursday yet. Both Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels pitched on Sunday, so expect a spot start from a minor leaguer.

Thursday: RH A.J. Burnett (8-2, 75.0 IP, 62 K, 3.24 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
vs. TBA RH Kyle Kendrick (2-7, 67.0 IP, 46 K, 5.24 ERA, 1.58 WHIP)

Kendrick pitched on Saturday so he’s my best guess for this spot.

No lineups yet.

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