Fresh off a first half that saw them go 56-37, and after an all-star break that seems like it lasted for ages, the Pirates are getting back to playing baseball again. They’ll start their second half trek with a three game road set in Cincinnati, where they’ll look to start the second half on the right foot, and continue their success against the Reds.
Game One: Francisco Liriano (9-3, 2.00) Vs. Mike Leake (8-4, 2.69): The Pirates have shuffled their rotation for the second half, and Francisco Liriano came out on top, and deservedly so. He’ll take the bump tonight against Mike Leake, who’s having one of the best years of his career so far. Leake might not be as good as Liriano, but he’ll try to steal a win tonight.
Game Two: A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.06) Vs. Mat Latos (8-3, 3.53): Another fairly even pitching matchup, Burnett’s been good this year, but hampered by bad luck, getting too little run support, and an injury to his right calf. Latos has lost two of his last three starts, and only went four innings in his last start (a loss against Atlanta). He started strong, but he’s returned back to earth lately.
Game Three: Jeff Locke (8-1, 2.15) Vs. Homer Bailey (5-8, 3.82): Locke isn’t just following A.J. Burnett around in person anymore, now he’s following him in the rotation as well. Locke’s move up in the rotation was well deserved, after his stellar first half. Homer Bailey threw a no-hitter last month, but since then he’s 0-2, and has given up four earned runs in each of his starts.
*All starters listed are probable
Pirates Players To Watch:
Pedro Alvarez: One of the biggest keys to this season for the Pirates from the beginning was Pedro Alvarez producing as the team needed him to. He exceeded expectations in the first half, can he keep it up as the second half begins?
A.J. Burnett: Burnett hasn’t gone any more than 5.2 innings in three of his last four starts. Can he get deeper into his start tomorrow night against the Reds?
Jason Grilli: Grilli has only blown one save all year, and that came against Cincinnati when he served up a home run to Jay Bruce, in the ninth inning of a game the Pirates would eventually lose in thirteen innings.
Reds Players To Watch:
Brandon Phillips: As much as it hurts to say it, Phillips is having himself a great season, posting seventy-four RBI at the All-Star break. He’s a Pirates killer, batting .303/.351/.490 in his career against the Bucs.
Shin-Soo Choo: Choo went into the All-Star break on a twelve game hitting streak, will he be able to stay hot after several days off? Choo is hitting .287 on the year, but .244 against the Pirates.
Mat Latos: The last time the Pirates and Reds met for a series, Latos got all hot and bothered after Charlie Morton hit Shin-Soo Choo, and didn’t fare especially well during the game. He’ll hope to do better this time around.
The Pirates are 6-4 this year against the Reds.
Game one of the series will be the MLB.tv free game of the day, for those outside the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati markets.
The Pirates and Reds will meet nine times over the second half, including this three game set.