Pirates vs. Tigers, Series Preview


This is going to be a pretty quick and easy one. The Pirates are in Detroit for a three game set with the Tigers. That means we will all be reacquainted with Prince Fielder, who signed a huge deal with the Tigers this offseason.

It seems that we’re drawing this team at the right time in the year. They just lost two straight games to the Twins who are the worst team in the league right now. Their pitching hasn’t been good lately, giving up 30 runs in their last four games. That could be a good thing for the Pirates, who can’t seem to do much at all offensively. The Tigers offense is something to be reckoned with however, although it may not be as good as some people expected it to be. The Tigers have a team batting average of .256 and have hit 37 home runs, which is 12th in the league. Their team ERA is 4.31 which is 7th to last in the league.

The numbers do lie a little bit, because it’s a much harder pitching game in the American League. It seems that every team an American League team will face has a solid offense with at least a few home run hitters.

The Tigers certainly have a couple of home run hitters in Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. The Pirates have to silence those two to have a shot, because chances are we aren’t going to win any 10-8 games this series. The Pirate staff has the 4th best ERA in the league at 3.31; trailing only the Nationals, Dodgers, and Rangers.

Here are the pitching match ups for this weekend:

Friday: Charlie Morton (2-3, 4.05) vs. Justin Verlander (4-1, 2.47)
Saturday: A.J. Burnett (1-2, 5.12) vs. Drew Smyly (1-0, 2.31)
Sunday: Kevin Correia (1-4, 4.50) vs. Max Scherzer (2-3, 6.26)

Sunday might not actually be Correia, but for now we have to assume that. He could very well not even be on the roster come Sunday, but again we have to wait and see. If he doesn’t go, Brad Lincoln would make the start.

Tonight is going to be an interest game. Charlie Morton hasn’t been good this year, although he did put up some decent numbers in his last start, despite giving up a bunch of hits. That’s been the big problem with Morton this year – the hits he’s given up. Opposing offenses are racking up 10.5 hits per nine innings, which is ridiculously high. The good news is that when Morton is on his game he doesn’t give up home runs very often, which should help him tonight against Fielder and Cabrera. He has also been good against lefties this year, which is something to be happy about. Regardless of how good Morton pitches tonight, it’s going to be a tough game to win with the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander toeing the rubber for Detroit. If you think the Pirates have struck out a lot this year, just wait until tonight. Verlander is one of the premier strikeout pitchers in the league and he shouldn’t have much trouble with this lineup at all. We’ll need some timely hits and a great start from Morton to have a chance.

The next two nights things get a little easier. A.J. Burnett has been great this year and should be able to keep the Pirates in this one. Drew Smyly has a small ERA but hasn’t pitched deep into games at all in his rookie year. He was a 2nd round pick in 2010 so you’d imagine he has some good stuff and he’s been tough to score on. The Pirates will have to capitalize on mistakes and get him out of the game early.

Sunday the Pirates get Max Scherzer, who has a very good fastball but has been getting pounded this year. He’s striking out a lot of batters but is giving up a good amount of hits. He has allowed 6 home runs in 8 starts and has allowed 11.7 hits per nine. If Kevin Correia starts for the Pirates this could be a high scoring affair (if that’s possible with the Pirates). If Brad Lincoln makes the start I feel slightly better about our chances.

It’s going to be a tough weekend in Detroit. The Tigers are a slugging team that can put a crooked number on the board in any given inning. The pitching staff is going to have to be on point and the offense has to get key hits when they need them. The Pirates haven’t had a ton of base runners this year so they need to start capitalizing when they do get them. They don’t have to rack up 8-10 hits a game, they just need to knock in runners when they have the chance.

If the Pirates can take one from the Tigers you won’t be too upset with the 3-4 road trip, and if they can somehow win two you have to be hyped.

Should be fun.

You can listen to me on TribLIVE Radio tonight from 4:30-6 and Saturday from 2-4 doing pre-game.