The Pirates arrive in St. Louis to take on the World Champions with a well rested bullpen. The team also announced that Jared Hughes has been recalled to replace Evan Meek. The Bucs bullpen will play a vital in trying to take the series from the Cardinals. It will take a team effort as St. Louis has received solid pitching and hitting on their way to the top of the NL Central.
It’s hard to imagine, but the Cards have left a few games slip away in Chicago and Milwaukee or their lead over the NL Central would be much more commanding. The team has struggled on the basepaths, much like the agressive Pirates have in April.
Charlie Morton and Adam Wainwright head to the bump tonight in a matchup of sinkerballers. Wainwright still has curve but if you look at an ESPN graph from ten days ago, you can see the curve isn’t the dominant punchout pitch it once was. The Cardinals stud is back after Tommy John surgery and will flash a changeup that the Buccos left handed hitters will need to watch for tonight.
The good news for the rejuvenated Pirates offensive juggernaut is several players have hit well against Wainright including Andrew McCutchen who has two doubles in his 6-for-15 career against Wainwright while Garrett Jones has also hit well going 5-for-16 while driving in three teammates. Jose Tabata and Neil Walker also have some success in six plate appearences against the right hander. Tabata has a double among his three hits, while Walker has two and has driven in three runs.
Allen Craig returns for the Cardinals and has lit up Morton going 6-for-9 with two doubles.
If the Bucs can get to Wainwright early by feasting on his curveball (hello, Pedro!) this game could be an entertaining start to the series for Pirates fans. If Wainwright finds his groove, he could pile up some strikeouts. I like to think the Bucs can hit a little bit tonight and let’s see if Morton can have success against the Cardinals lefties which he has struggled against in the past.