Series Preview: The Twins

Current record: 34-31, 2nd place in NL Central, 3.5 games back

Up Next: Minnesota Twins, 26-39, 5th place in AL Central, 8.0 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: Minnesota is having a really rough year. The pitching is giving up 5.4 runs per game, highest in the majors outside of Colorado. They can still put some runs up on the board, however. Trevor Plouffe is astonishingly the hottest hitter in the majors this month and is up to 14 homers on the year. Joe Mauer still hits like Joe Mauer when he’s in the lineup and not making shampoo commericals. Justin Morneau looked like he had recovered from his concussion in May but has slumped in June. Simply put, these are game the Bucs should win.

Familiar Faces: Ryan Doumit, Matt Capps

Probable Pitchers
Tuesday: LH Scott Diamond (5-2, 50.2 IP, 29 K, 2.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (2-6, 69.0 IP, 25 K, 4.43 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)

Diamond’s been the only bright spot on a horrible Twins staff this year. Correia hasn’t won at PNC since last June 22.

Wednesday: LH Francisco Liriano (1-7, 57.2 IP, 59 K, 6.24 ERA, 1.60 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (4-7, 66.0 IP, 62 K, 4.36 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

In four starts since moving back into the roatation, Liriano’s been okay: almost 6 IP per start and has lowered his ERA by over two runs. He still walks too many on most days, but if he’s on he could carve up this Pirates team. Bedard looks to bounce back from a rough outing.

Thursday: RH Liam Hendriks (0-3, 23.0 IP, 14 K, 7.83 ERA, 1.87 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (5-3, 81.1 IP, 78 K, 2.32 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)

The young Aussie will get plenty of chances to see if he can stick around with Minnesota out of the race already. JMac continues to build his resume for an All-Star bid.

No lineups yet.

Trade Tree: Erik Bedard

Erik Bedard has been a big part of the Pirates’ pitching renaissance this season. Tonight, he starts for against the Orioles, the team that drafted and developed him.

Bedard broke out in 2007 as an ace pitcher for the 4th place O’s. Instead of building around him, Baltimore decided to trade in in what turned out to be a franchise changing deal.

Bedard (and David Hernandez) became seven players, five of whom are still are still with the organization. The key to this being a good trade for Baltimore is Adam Jones – a good player the last four seasons who is putting up MVP caliber numbers this year.

So what did Seattle get on their end? Bedard has always been an effective pitcher when healthy, he just has trouble staying healthy. In his first three seasons in Seattle Erik made only 30 total starts. 2011 was his first injury-free season in Seattle, but it was also the last year of his contract. The Mariners decided to trade him to a contender at the deadline before another malady could put him on the shelf.

The M’s are left with two toolsy outfield prospects and the visions of what Bedard might have been. It’s going to take one of Chih-Hsien Chiang or Trayvon Robinson turning into a major league regular for Seattle to recoup the value they sent away.

Series Preview: The Orioles

Current record: 32-27, 1st place tie in NL Central, 0.0 games ahead

Up Next: Baltimore Orioles, 34-26, 3rd place in AL East, 1.0 game back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: The Orioles have been the surprise team of the AL this season, having spent 53 days in first place of the tough AL East. Like the Pirates, the O’s are finding their success despite having been outscored on the season 263-267. Also like the Pirates, they have a young All-Star center fielder leading the way. Adam Jones is hitting .298/.344/.571 with 17 home runs, 37 RBI and 9 steals. Anchoring the team behind the plate is a name all too familiar to Pirate fans: Matt Wieters. The Georgia Tech product has become one of the best catchers in the majors; just as it was thought he would back in 2007. Former Pirates GM Dave Littlefield passed on taking Wieters with the 4th pick, which is a big reason he is now the former GM.

Familiar Faces: Ronny Paulino, Steve Pearce, Dana Eveland

Probable Pitchers
Tuesday: RH Brad Lincoln (3-1, 30.0 IP, 31 K, 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
vs. LH Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 67.0 IP, 51 K, 3.49 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)

The Bucs face Chens in back to back starts for what has to be the first time in their history. Wei-Yin (no relation to Bruce) has been a major addition for the O’s this season. Jeff Karstens strained his hip flexor in his last rehab start, so Lincoln will get at least one more turn.

Wednesday: RH Kevin Correia (2-5, 63.0 IP, 24 K, 4.29 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
vs. LH Brian Matusz (5-6, 65.1 IP, 50 K, 4.82 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)

Thursday: LH Erik Bedard (4-6, 62.2 IP, 61 K, 3.59 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
vs. RH Tommy Hunter (2-3, 65.0 IP, 33 K, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)

No lineups yet.

Series Preview: The Royals

Current record: 29-27, 2nd place in NL Central, 2.0 games back

Up Next: Kansas City Royals, 24-31, 4th place in AL Central, 7.0 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: Interleague play is back for the next 15 games. For the Royals tonight, that means they lose the DH and their defense gets shifted around to keep their best hitters in the lineup. DH Billy Butler goes to first, 1B Eric Hosmer goes to RF, and RF Jeff Francoeur moves to CF. The Pirates have been playing well and should have no trouble with the weak Royals pitching.

Familiar Faces: Surpisingly, none.

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Luke Hochevar (3-6, 57.0 IP, 46 K, 6.63 ERA, 1.54 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (3-6, 55.2 IP, 56 K, 3.72 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)

Saturday: LH Vin Mazzaro (2-0, 12.0 IP, 5 K, 2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (5-2, 71.1 IP, 71 K, 2.14 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)

Sunday: LH Bruce Chen (5-5, 70.0 IP, 48 K, 4.37 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (5-2, 55.0 IP, 50 K, 3.76 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)

Royals
Alex Gordon LF
Yuniesky Betancourt 2B
Billy Butler 1B
Mike Moustakas 3B
Jeff Francoeur CF
Eric Hosmer RF
Alcides Escobar SS
Humberto Quintero C
Luke Hochevar P

Alex Presley LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones RF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Jose Tabata RF
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
Erik Bedard P

Series Preview: The Brewers

Current record: 25-25, 3rd place in NL Central, 3.0 games back

Up Next: Milwaukee Brewers, 23-28, 5th place in NL Central, 5.5 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: If the Pirates have had a nemesis the last few years it’s been the Brewers, especially in Miller Park. Milwaukee is a shell of last year’s division winner. Prince Fielder left for the Tigers and his replacement Mat Gamel is out for the year. Starting SS Alex Gonzalez has also been lost for the season and C Jonathan Lucroy just broke his hand and is out for a few weeks. Ryan Braun is stil on the team and slugging as well as ever.

Familiar Faces: Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Kevin Correia (1-5, 52.1 IP, 18 K, 4.30 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
vs. RH Randy Wolf (2-4, 55.0 IP, 30 K, 5.73 ERA, 1.67 WHIP)

Saturday: LH Erik Bedard (3-5, 52.0 IP, 51 K, 3.12 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)
vs. RH Shaun Marcum (3-3, 62.0 IP, 58 K, 3.63 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)

Sunday: RH James McDonald (4-2, 65.1 IP, 63 K, 2.20 ERA, 0.96 WHIP)
vs. RH Michael Fiers (1-0, 7.0 IP, 3 K, 1.29 ERA, 0.71 WHIP)

No lineups yet.

Trade Tree: Matt Garza

Today’s mound opponent, Matt Garza, has been a key component of two major trades in his seven-year big league career. His stint in Minnesota was covered in last week’s Johan Santana Trade Tree, but Garza is starting for the Cubs today so let’s look at what the Cubs gave up for him.

Garza’s a good pitcher and it took a lot of talent for the Cubs to get him. Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee were top prospects then and still have plenty of shine left. In addition to that, Ray’s fans were also treated to The Legendary Sam Fuld era.

In summary, the Rays received Garza for Delmon Young, who has not panned out despite all of his talent, had Garza for his age 24-26 season, then as he got expensive spun him for a boatload of talent. The lesson? Beware deals with this Tampa Bay front office. They always seem to come out at least an extra 2% ahead.

Garza tries to help the Cubs avoid a sweep by the Pirates today at 1:35. Erik Bedard goes for the Bucs.

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