Thursday, April 18, 2013

Series Preview: Pirates

It's time for a 4 game series in some ugly weather. Who's up for it? I hope the Braves are, because I checked the Pitt forecast, and it looks bad. Tonight is supposed to have 18mph winds. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain heavily and have 22mph winds. I doubt we'll get that game in. Saturday will be in the 40s with, you guessed it, 15mph winds. Sunday might not be terrible but chilly.

Game 1: Teheran (0-0) v. Locke (1-1)
Game 2: Hudson (2-0) v. Rodriguez (1-0)
Game 3: Maholm (3-0) v. McDonald (1-2)
Game 4: Medlen (1-1) v. Sanchez (0-2)

Tonight's game with Teheran facing Locke features two guys who have less than 2 years in the league. Locke had a decent outing against Cincy, but got shelled by the Dodgers. Teheran's been shelled twice by the Nats and Cubs, but he escaped both times. Both have ERA's over 4.00, both have career ERA's over 5.00, and just for good measure, the winds are supposed to be blowing in from right field off the river. Meaning that almost nothing is going into the stands into the teeth of a 20 mph breeze. It sets up well for the pitchers, and means the hitters will have string things together to get some runs.

Game 2 will have Huddy going against veteran Wandy Rodriguez. I honestly don't think this game will get played if the weather holds up, but nonetheless I'll give a quick breakdown. Huddy owns the Pirates roster. The whole team is batting under .200 against him, slugging for less than .260, and they have no homers in 117 ABs. The Braves crush Wandy with both Uptons slugging over .500, Jason Heyward going 4/8, Laird going 4/7, and the entire team batting over .250 against him. We should win that matchup if it goes.

Maholm and McDonald in the third game are two guys going in different directions. Maholm is firing on all cylindars with no earned runs in 3 starts. McDonald has a 5.27 ERA with two losses, and an 8 run disaster in his last game where he only went 1.2 innings before getting yanked against the Cards. Francisco, Uggla, J Up, and Heyward all have .300 or better averages off McDonald. Guys like Simmons, BJ, and Gattis haven't seen him. There's potential for us to make this game very very ugly for the Pirates and very very fun for us if Maholm holds form. There's only one guy Maholm has to avoid. Clint Barmes, who's mired in a .111 slump right now, absolutely owns Maholm lifetime. He's 15/34 with 3 doubles, a triple, 2 homers, 4 walks, and an OPS over 1.250 in all ABs against Maholm. Don't pitch to that guy and we're fine.

Medlen is sporting a 1.42 ERA and an unfortunate 1-1 record with spotty support. Jonathan Sanchez is an outright greasefire. He has a 12.96 ERA, is 0-2, and was blasted by the Diamondbacks for 9 runs in 3.1 innings in his last game. I'm just going to go ahead and say we have absolutely no excuses in this game. This is about as close to a complete mismatch, must-win, as you are going to have on a road trip. We just need to make it happen.

The Pirates have been hitting well over the last 7 days, with an OPS around .820 for the week and 5 homers. The Braves are hitting similarly over the last 7 days with an OPS also around .820 with 12 homers. I think these matchups come down to pitching, and we have a large advantage in 3 of the 4 matchups.

The CPA let us down yesterday, since it accurately predicted the 1 run for the Royals, but the Braves didn't score any of the 4 it wanted. That brings the season total to 10-4, with a look at a young set of pitchers today. Let's see what it thinks.

CPA Prediction Game 1: Pirates 4 - Braves 2.

This isn't one of the matchups in pitching that favors the Braves. Locke may have a higher ERA, but his worst game was on the road. He pitched a 1.80 ERA at home, and the weather is going to favor him tonight. The Braves won't be able to rely on the long ball if the wind is coming off the river, and we haven't shown an ability to score in the traditional sense with RISP consistently. In fact, we're only hitting .234 with RISP, which puts us 12th in the NL. Not good for a team that's second in the league in slugging. You can see the disparity in those stats. Our timely hitting hasn't arrived yet, and we may need it tonight.


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