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 Wrap Up: The Astros

Scores:
Thursday: 5-3 Win at Houston. Marte impresses, Burnett cruises. Box score.
Friday: 6-5 Win at Houston. The Fort with a big day; late rally. Box score.
Saturday: 4-3 Win at Houston. Wandy not sharp in debut. Box score.
Sunday: 9-5 Loss at Houston. JMac struggles again, walks 7. Box score.

Season Record: 58-43, 2nd place in NL Central, 3.0 games back

Notes: The Bucs take 3 of 4 from the hapless Astros and still lose a game in the standings to the Reds. Starling Marte had an impressive debut, hitting a home run on the first pitch he saw in the majors. Garrett Jones lead the team with five hits in the series. Three of those went for extra bases. A.J. Burnett was the only starter who had a good outing but they all went at least 5 innings. Wandy Rodriguez walked 5 in his Pirates debut. Kevin Correia was moved to the bullpen, gave up 4 runs in 2 innings and demanded a trade.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
Marte, S, LF, CF 18 2 4 2 0 3 4 0.222 0.211
Jones, G, RF, 1B 17 3 5 4 0 1 6 0.294 0.294
Alvarez, 3B 15 1 4 0 1 5 7 0.267 0.313
Walker, 2B 13 2 3 3 2 2 7 0.231 0.353
McCutchen, A, CF 12 2 4 0 1 1 8 0.333 0.385
Presley, RF, LF 12 2 4 2 1 5 5 0.333 0.385
Barmes, SS 10 1 3 2 0 3 1 0.300 0.300
McGehee, 1B 10 0 1 0 1 3 2 0.100 0.182
Barajas, C 8 1 1 1 1 2 3 0.125 0.222
McKenry, C 7 2 4 2 1 1 2 0.571 0.625
Burnett, AJ, P 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 0.333 0.333
Harrison, SS 2 2 2 1 0 0 0 1.000 0.667
Sutton, PH-RF 2 1 0 0 1 1 2 0.000 0.333
Mercer, PR-SS 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0.000 0.000
Karstens, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
McDonald, J, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
Rodriguez, W, P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
  Totals 135 20 36 17 9 30 48 0.267 0.311

Batting
Doubles (5): McCutchen 2 (19), McKenry (9), Harrison (8), Walker (24)
Triples (1): Jones (2)
Home Runs (8): Marte (1), Jones 2 (16), Barmes (5), Presley 2 (8), McKenry (9), Walker (10)

Baserunning
SB: Marte (1)
CS: Marte (1)

Fielding
Double Plays: (Walker-Barmes-McGehee), (Alvarez-Walker-McGehee)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Burnett, AJ(W, 12-3) 7.3 4 2 2 1 5 2 2.45 0.68
Rodriguez, W 6.0 6 3 3 5 5 0 4.50 1.83
Karstens 5.0 6 4 4 3 7 2 7.20 1.80
McDonald, J(L, 10-5) 5.0 6 5 5 7 5 1 9.00 2.60
Hanrahan(S, 30,31) 2.0 2 1 1 1 4 0 4.50 1.50
Hughes, J 2.0 4 1 1 1 1 0 4.50 2.50
Correia 2.0 5 4 4 1 2 0 18.00 3.00
Lincoln(H, 4,5) 1.7 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 1.20
Grilli(S, 2) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.00
Watson(W, 5-1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.00
Resop(W, 1-3) 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 1.00
  Totals 34.0 35 20 20 20 35 5 5.29 1.62

Transactions (since the AllStar break): Activated OF Alex Presley from the DL. Optioned 1B Matt Hague to AAA. Placed RHP Juan Cruz on the 15-day DL. Recalled RHP Evan Meek from AAA. Traded minor league pitchers Rudy Owens and Colton Cain and minor league OF Robbie Grossman to Houston for LHP Wandy Rodriguez. Optioned RHP Evan Meek to AAA. Optioned OF Gorkys Hernandez to AAA. Recalled OF Starling Marte from AAA. Traded minor leage 2B Brian Friday to Atlanta for minor league OF Christian Marrero. Assigned Marrero to AAA.

Series Preview: The Astros

Current record: 55-44, 2nd place in NL Central, 2.5 games back

Up Next: Houston Astros, 34-65, 6th place in NL Central, 24.5 games back

Season Series: 6-1 (2-1, 4-0)

Notes: This isn’t the same Astros team the Bucs faced three weeks ago. Gone are Carlos Lee, J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon and Brett Myers. SS Jed Lowrie is on the DL. Their best pitcher left is Bud Norris, who won’t face the Pirates this series because he started last night. This is baseball so anything can happen, but the Astros are really bad right now and Bucs should take three or four games here.

Familiar Faces: Chris Snyder, Brian Bixler

Probable Pitchers
Thursday: RH A.J. Burnett (11-3, 107.2 IP, 89 K, 3.59 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
vs. LH Dallas Keuchel (1-2, 29.0 IP, 11 K, 4.03 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)

Friday: RH Jeff Karstens (3-2, 46.0 IP, 31 K, 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
vs. RH Jordan Lyles (2-7, 73.2 IP, 44 K, 5.50 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)

Karstens hasn’t been officially announced, but this is his turn and he’s pitching well so I wouldn’t mess things up.

Saturday: LH Wandy Rodriguez (7-9, 130.2 IP, 89 K, 3.79 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
vs. TBA

This was supposed to be Wandy’s start for Houston. Instead he’ll make his Pirates’ debut. So far, the Astros haven’t announced a replacement.

Sunday: RH James McDonald (10-4, 125.2 IP, 110 K, 3.15 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)
vs. RH Lucas Harrell (7-7, 121.2 IP, 81 K, 4.07 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)

Just announced – Erik Bedard‘s start will be pushed back to Monday’s game. I have no problem giving the typically injury prone Bedard some extra rest, even when he’s pitching well. Kevin Correia has been moved to the bullpen.

Tonight’s Lineup:
Starling Marte LF (Major League debut)
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones RF
Casey McGehee 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
A.J. Burnett P

Starling Marte Called Up

Its the move some fans have been calling for since spring training: OF Starling Marte has been called up to the big leagues. He makes his debut tonight, leading off and playing LF.

In 431 PA at AAA Indianapolis, Marte was putting up a very good .286/.347/500 line. He lead the team with 62 RBI’s, 13 triples and 194 total bases, and was second with 21 doubles, 12 HR, 21 SB and .847 OPS.

To make room for Marte and newly acquired pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, RHP Evan Meek and OF Gorkys Hernandez were both optioned back to AAA.

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.

Sunday Notes

Late Friday night the Pirates acquired Jeff Larish from the Red Sox for cash considerations. Larish is a non-prospect at this point and will go to AAA, where the organization already has several 1B/DH types. Speculation around the internet seems to be that this move only makes since if one of Jake Fox or Matt Hague is going to be called up.

Erik Bedard has been scratched from Monday’s start. He had back spasms after one inning in his last start on Wednesday. Brad Lincoln will start Monday’s game and Bedard is no scheduled to go on Wednesday.

Heck of a game last night. The Pirates beat up on J.A. Happ like they should have and Charlie Morton was very effective after tweaking his sinker since his last start. The rubber game is today at 1:35pm, barring any rain delays.

Lineups:
Jose Tabata LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Casey McGehee 1B
Yamaico Navarro RF
Rod Barajas C
Josh Harrison SS
A.J. Burnett P

Astros:
Jordan Schafer CF
Jed Lowrie SS
J.D. Martinez LF
Carlos Lee 1B
Brian Bogusevic RF
Chris Johnson 3B
Jason Castro C
Marwin Gonzalez 2B
Wandy Rodriguez P

Late update:

Pirates

RHP Joel Hanrahan reinstated from Bereavement List…RHP Daniel McCutchen on D.L. with left oblique strain; suffered in BP Saturday.
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