Series Preview: The Nationals

Current record: 12-16, 4th place in NL Central, 5.5 games back

Up Next: Washington Nationals, 18-10, 1st place in NL East, 1.0 game lead

The Nats are playing great baseball right now. They have five solid starting pitchers and are allowing the fewest runs per game in the majors (2.9). Old friends Adam LaRoche, Xavier Nady, Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Burnett are on the team. LaRoche has avoided his usual April slump and been the best hitter on the Nats this year. RF Jayson Werth just went down with a broken wrist on Sunday. Phenom Bryce Harper will start in right while he’s out.

Probable Pitchers
Tuesday: RH Edwin Jackson (1-1, 32.2 IP, 29 K, 3.69 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (1-2, 15.2 IP, 17 K, 8.04 ERA, 1.72 WHIP)

Wednesday: LH Ross Detwiler (3-1, 28.1 IP, 21 K, 1.59 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (2-4, 34.0 IP, 37 K, 2.65 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)

Thursday: RH Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 38.0 IP, 38 K, 1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (1-2, 29.1 IP, 12 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)

No lineup available yet.

Update 2:35pm: The lineup is posted. Cutch is back, Alex Presley sits.

Jose Tabata LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Casey McGehee 1B
Garrett Jones RF
Clint Barmes SS
Rod Barajas C
A.J. Burnett P

Weekend Preview: The Reds

Current record: 11-14, 3rd place in NL Central, 5 games back

Up Next: Cincinnati Reds, 12-12, 2nd place in NL Central, 3.5 games back

The Reds pitching has been pretty bad so far and the offense has been all Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. If the Pirates can keep those two in check and keep hitting like they have the last few games then they should win the series. A sweep would have the Bucs in second place on Monday.

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Johnny Cueto (3-0, 32.1 IP, 22 K, 1.39 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (1-1, 22.1 IP, 9 K, 2.42 ERA, 1.03 WHIP)

Saturday: RH Mike Leake (0-3, 21.2 IP, 9 K, 6.65 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)
vs. LH James McDonald (1-1, 30.1 IP, 24 K, 2.97 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)

Sunday: RH Mat Latos (1-2, 28.2 IP, 18 K, 5.97 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)
vs. RH Charlie Morton (1-2, 21.1 IP, 15 K, 4.22 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

No lineup available yet.

Update 4pmLineups just posted, thanks to Kristy Robinson of Pirates Prospects. Pedro moves up to the 5th spot. Looks like Andrew McCutchen is still feeling sick.

Jose Tabata RF
Alex Presley LF
Nate McLouth CF
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Garrett Jones 1B
Clint Barmes SS
Rod Barajas C
Kevin Correia P

vs.

Zack Cozart SS
Drew Stubbs CF
Joey Votto 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce RF
Scott Rolen 3B
Chris Heisey LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Johnny Cueto P

Weekend Preview: The Braves

Sorry for not posting after Wednesday’s game 2. I needed to unplug for a bit but I’m back, refreshed and ready for a packed weekend.

For one inning, the bats finally came alive. Fortunately, that was enough. A five-spot in the fifth gave the Bucs all they would need to beat the Rockies, split the doubleheader and take the series. Props go to Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez for back-to-back homers. A big assist goes out to Rockies’ LF Carlos Gonzalez who twice lost balls in the sun before switching to a pair of flip-down shades.

Current record: 8-10, 4th place in NL Central, 3.5 games back

Up Next: Atlanta Braves, 12-7, 2nd place in NL East, 2 games back

I will be LIVE at all four games this series, since its my one chance to see the Pirates this season without travelling. If you’ll be there too then let me know and we can meet up. Last year all four games went long – two rain delays and two extra inning tilts – including the 19 inning Jerry Meals affair.

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Tommy Hanson (2-2, 24 IP, 23 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (1-0, 7 IP, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP)

Saturday: RH Randall Delgado (2-1, 15.2 IP, 17 K, 5.74 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (0-4, 24 IP, 17 K, 2.63 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)

Sunday: RH Tim Hudson (2012 debut)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (1-0, 18 IP, 9 K, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP)

Monday: LH Mike Minor (2-1, 26.1 IP, 21 K, 3.42 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (0-1, 22.2 IP, 14 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)

No lineup available yet, but here’s my guess:

Alex Presley LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Rod Barajas C
A.J. Burnett P

There’s a decent chance that Nate McLouth starts two games this series. See you at the Park.

Update: The lineup is in and I was way off. I thought Clint Hurdle would go with the “normal” order due to yesterday’s off day. Actual Lineup:
Alex Presley LF
Clint Barmes SS
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones RF
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Casey McGehee 1B
Rod Barajas C
A.J. Burnett P

Correia Hurt, Burnett activated.

I’m posting this from my phone so please forgive the lack of links. The Pirates have announced that tonight’s starting pitcher, Kevin Correia, has been scratched due to discomfort in his left side. A left oblique injury forced Correia to miss the end of last season.

Starting in his place will be A.J. Burnett, who was supposed to make his final rehab start tonight in Altoona. A corresponding roster move will be announced before the start of the game.

Update 4/22, 10:58: Jared Hughes was optioned to AAA to make room for Burnett. Added links.

Cardinals On Deck

The Pirates emerged from their nine game west coast trip with a 5-7 record; good for third place in the Central and a game better than I feared they would be after all the tough pitchers they’ve faced so far this year. This weekend, the first place (and Albert Pujols-less) Cardinals bring their 9-4 record to Pittsburgh for a three game set.

Pitching matchups:
Friday: Lance Lynn (2-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
Saturday: Jake Westbrook (2-0, 0.64 ERA) vs. Kevin Correia (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Sunday: Kyle Lohse (2-0, 0.89 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (0-3, 2.65 ERA)

Lance Berkman will miss the series with an injury and Jon Jay was recently injured as well. The real key for the Pirates will be, as always, trying to score some runs against pitchers who have been very effective this season. Hopefully a little home cooking will help.

Tonight’s lineup:
Alex Presley LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones 1B
Rod Barajas C
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Charlie Morton P

I’d rather see Casey McGehee at 3B, but Pedro’s gotta play to get better I guess.

Weekend Wrap Up 4/15/12

Scores:
Friday: 5-0 Loss at San Francisco. Matt Cain dominates. Recap. Box score.
Saturday: 4-3 Loss at San Francisco. Close game falls apart in the ninth. Recap. Box score.
Sunday: 4-1 Win at San Francisco. Finally, a solid game. Recap. Box score.

Season Record: 3-6, 5th place in the NL Central.

Good: Another good start from Kevin Correia breaks the five game losing streak. Charlie Morton looks to be in good health in his season debut. Neil Walker with two two-hit days.
Bad: Two shaky outings from Joel Hanrahan. Chris Resop wasn’t sharp but the defense let him down. Jose Tabata went 0-9 and left 7 men on base.

Combined Box:

Pittsburgh      AB      R      H      RBI      BB      SO      LOB
Presley, LF 13 1 3 1 1 4 2
Walker, 2B 11 1 4 2 0 3 0
McCutchen, A, CF 11 2 2 0 1 1 2
McGehee, 1B 9 2 2 0 0 1 2
Tabata, RF 9 0 0 0 0 3 7
Jones, G, 1B, RF 7 1 2 1 0 4 0
Harrison, 3B, SS 7 0 1 1 0 0 3
Barmes, SS 7 0 1 0 0 1 3
Barajas, C 6 0 0 0 1 0 0
Alvarez, 3B 6 0 0 0 0 5 1
McDonald, J, P 2 0 1 0 0 0 0
Navarro, PH 2 0 0 0 0 1 4
Correia, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 3
Morton, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 0
McKenry, C 1 0 0 0 3 1 0
McLouth, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Hague, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 97 7 16 5 6 26 29

Batting:
Triples: Harrison (1)
Homers: Jones (1)

Baserunning:
SB: Tabata (2), Jones (1)
CS: McCutchen (2)

Fielding:
Errors: Morton (1), Barmes 2 (2)

Pittsburgh      IP      H      R      ER      BB      SO      HR
Correia(W, 1-0) 6.0 3 1 1 1 2 0
McDonald, J (L, 0-1) 5.7 6 3 3 3 1 0
Morton 5.0 7 3 3 0 2 0
Hanrahan(S, 1) 2.0 2 2 2 2 1 1
Grilli(H, 1) 2.0 1 0 0 1 3 0
Watson 1.3 1 0 0 0 0 0
Hughes, J(H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Cruz, J 1.0 0 0 0 2 1 0
Meek 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Resop (L, 0-1) 0.0 2 1 0 1 0 0
Totals 25.0 23 10 9 10 10 1

Transactions: Activated RHP Charlie Morton from the 15-day Disabled List. Optioned 1B Matt Hague to AAA Indianapolis.

Up Next: A three game set in Arizona ends the road trip. Expected matchups: Erik Bedard (0-2) vs. Joe Saunders (0-0), Jeff Karstens (0-1) vs. Ian Kennedy (2-0), and James McDonald (0-1) vs. Daniel Hudson (1-0).

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