The Pittsburgh Pirates are right back where they were in 2013. Six wins. Six losses. The Reds will host the Pirates at Great American Ball Park tonight in Cincinnati and will have the struggling Homer Bailey on the mound. Wandy Rodriguez will get the start for the black and yellow.
Didn’t we just see the Reds? Oh, yeh. It was awesome too.
The Bucs black-out inspired win knocked the Reds out of the postseason, but it was the work the team did during the regular season that opened our eyes. The Buccos were 11-8 against the Reds during the regular season and won six of ten games at Great American which included a September sweep that saw the Bucs send six balls out of the park.
The difference between the teams this year has been how well they have played in one-run games. The Bucs are 5-2 and the Reds are 2-5. The Pirates have had nine of the first 12 games decided by two or fewer runs.
The teams are eerily similar to one another when you look at those numbers.
Remember the Wild Card Game lineups? It’s hard not to think the Pirates have the better team now. They just need to play like they are the better team to get this series in Cincy. Cleaning up the defense, better base running, coaching decisions and of course, putting some runs on the board for Wandy will be paramount if they want to have any chance tonight. The Reds put Billy Hamilton into Choo’s spot in the lineup? Ouch. The on-base machine-Choo is a big loss.
Offensive notes: Travis Ishikawa has just seven hits in 31 at bats. Starling Marte is striking out a great deal for the Bucs–leading the team. Russell Martin has reached base in all eight of his starts, Travis Snider in all nine.
As much as all of us spoke about right field and first base this offseason, the production has been o.k. from those positions. We aren’t thrilled with what is at first base and we dont see it getting better the more Ishikawa plays. But we see the challenge as the lack of hitting from the more ‘talented’ players in the Bucs lineup.
Andrew McCutchen had the worst April of his life last season. Cutch is hitting just .244 this season, but has been walked 11 times reaching base safely in 11 of the 12 Pirates games. Jordy Mercer is also off to a rough start with just five hits in 34 at-bats. El Toro and Walker are going to need to produce in April for the Bucs to have any shot at getting out of the month over .500.
The good news for the Bucs is that both Cutch and Mercer hit well recently at Great American. The NL MVP hit .350 in Great American with three homers in his last five games at Great American. Mercer has 9 hits in 29 games.
Pitching: And you thought Wandy looked a bit off this year? Bailey has given up eight runs this season and rocks a 7.71 ERA in tiny sample size diagnosis.
We detailed a post on Wandy here. Let’s just say we have our concerns with what we will see tonight. The Pirates and Bailey seem like a poor matchup, so we forsee the Bucs having a tough time tonight. God I hope I am wrong.
Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates