Trade Deadline Tree: Wandy Rodriguez

The Pirates made a big splash to upgrade their rotation tonight, adding LHP Wandy Rodriguez from Houston. In return, the Astros get LHP Rudy Owens, LHP Colton Cain and OF Robbie Grossman.

Wandy has made a league leading 21 starts this season. While his 3.79 ERA is his highest since 2007, his 1.27 WHIP is his lowest since 2009. His strikeouts are down this year, but he’s walking fewer batters too for a 2.78 K/BB ratio. Rodriguez is an immediate upgrade to the rotation. Kevin Correia will likely be the odd man out but nothing has been announced yet.  It looks like Rodriguez will start this weekend in Houston. I honestly wouldn’t be too surprised if they skipped James McDonald‘s next start just to give him a break.

Owens had shown remarked improvement in his second season at AAA Indianapolis. In 19 starts over 117.1 innings the 6′ 3″ lefty from Arizona posted an 8-5 record, 3.14 ERA, 1.168 WHIP, and 6.5 K/9.

Cain is also a 6′ 3″ lefty and gets to return to his home state. In his first season at High-A Bradenton, Cain has thrown 75 innings to the tune of  a 3-5 record, 4.20 ERA, 1.240 WHIP, and 6.1 K/9.

Robbie Grossman was the Pirates second best OF prospect coming into the season and is also a Texas native. He was putting up a .262/.374/.403 in his first season at AA Altoona.

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.

Giants Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 6-5 Loss vs San Francisco. Bedard struggles again. Box score.
Saturday: 3-1 Win vs San Francisco. JMac dominates. Box score.
Sunday: 13-2 Win vs San Francisco. Pirates batter Lincecum. Box score.

Season Record: 48-37, 1st place in NL Central, 1.0 game ahead

Notes: The Pirates enter the All Star break in first place for the first time since 1997. The Bucs are 11 games over .500 and sport the fourth best record in the majors. What a series for Neil Walker: 8 for 12 with 4 doubles and a homer. Andrew McCutchen was nearly as good with 2 homers among his 7 hits in 14 at bats. Cutch was named to participate in the Home Run Derby as a late replacement for Giancarlo Stanton. James McDonald continued his All Star-worthy campaign with 10 K’s in 7 innings. The bullpen was stellar once again, allowing only one run (by Juan Cruz) in 10 innings.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
McCutchen, A, CF 14 5 7 6 0 2 4 0.500 0.500
Sutton, LF-RF 13 0 2 1 0 3 5 0.154 0.143
Walker, 2B 12 4 8 4 1 1 3 0.667 0.692
McGehee, 1B 12 2 4 3 0 2 5 0.333 0.333
Alvarez, 3B 11 2 2 2 1 3 6 0.182 0.250
Jones, G, RF-1B 10 1 1 0 0 3 6 0.100 0.100
Barmes, SS 7 1 2 1 0 1 4 0.286 0.286
Barajas, C 6 1 1 0 2 0 3 0.167 0.444
Hernandez, Go, PR-LF 6 1 0 0 0 2 1 0.000 0.000
Mercer, PH-SS 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.000 0.000
McKenry, C 3 1 2 1 0 0 1 0.667 0.667
Burnett, AJ, P 3 0 1 1 0 1 3 0.333 0.333
Harrison, SS 2 2 2 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000
McDonald, J, P 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000
Lincoln, P 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000
Bedard, P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
Fryer, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
  Totals 107 21 34 19 6 18 43 0.318 0.357

Batting
Doubles (9): Walker 4 (21), McKenry (7), Alvarez (15), Sutton (10), Barajas (8), McGehee (12)
Triples (1): McCutchen (5)
Home Runs (6): McGehee (6), Alvarez (16), McKenry (7), McCutchen 2 (18), Walker (6)

Baserunning
SB: Hernandez (2)

Fielding
Errors: Walker (4), Harrison (3), McKenry (1), Sutton (1)
Double Plays: (Bedard-Harrison-McGehee), (Mercer-Walker-McGehee), (Barmes-Walker- McGehee)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
McDonald, J(W, 9-3) 7.0 4 1 1 0 10 0 1.29 0.57
Burnett, AJ(W, 10-2) 6.3 4 2 2 2 5 1 2.84 0.95
Bedard(L, 4-10) 3.7 4 5 4 3 1 1 9.82 1.91
Lincoln 2.7 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.00
Resop 2.3 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 0.00
Hughes, J 2.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 1.00
Grilli(H, 21) 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 0.00
Hanrahan(S, 23) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 1.00
Cruz, J 1.0 2 1 1 0 0 0 9.00 2.00
  Totals 27.0 17 9 8 5 24 2 2.67 0.81

Transactions: Outrighted Chris Leroux and Doug Slaten to AAA. Optioned C Eric Fryer to AAA. Recalled 1B Matt Hague from AAA.

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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