Wooo hooo! Two games out of first place in July! This team leaps over yet another hurdle, going 8-7 in interleauge play, the first time in two years they have had a winning record in IL play! Not only that they won their first road series in IL play since beating the Rays in 2003 (WOW!). The Pirates sit at 41-39 and have three very winnable series’ on the horizon. The Pirates will take on the Nationals, the Astros, and the Cubs before heading into the All Star break. There is a very reasonable chance this team could be in first place at the All Star break!
The Reds are less than a game behind the Pirates, and will take on the Indians.
The Cardinals are two games up on the Pirates, and will take on the Rays.
The Brewers (who were just swept by the Yankees….thanks guys are tied with the Cardinals for first so they are also two games up on the Pirates, they will take on the Twins.
If you don’t think that two games out of first is impressive, just consider that the Pirates are thirteen games ahead of the Houston Astros!
The Pirates now head to Washington to close out the season series against the Nationals. This will be a four game series due to weather issues last series and will feature a true double header on Saturday. If you are in the area that would be a great time to visit the ballpark as you will get to see two games, and not that crappy day/night idiocy that is all too common these days.
The Buccos are 2-2 against the Nats so far this season, outscoring the Nats 16-14. They have already beaten the Nationals more this season than last. In fact the Pirates were pathetic against the Nationals last season, going just 1-5 against one of the worst teams in baseball and being outscored by eighteen runs!
Tom Gorzelanny (28) LHP
Gorzelanny was traded, along with John Grabow to the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline during the 2009 season, the Pirates received oft-injured pitchers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio in the deal, along with current MLB infielder Josh Harrison.
Gorzelanny actually pitched pretty well in his time with the Cubs, at least better than he pitched for the Pirates. He posted an 11-11 record in 42 games (30 starts) with our arch nemesis, also picking up a save in the process. Gorzo had a fairly respectable ERA of 4.43 with the Cubs, putting up a 4.09 ERA last season, his best since he achieved a 3.88 ERA during the 2007 season with the Pirates.
So far he has been pretty decent for the Nationals. His record (2-6) could obviously be a lot better but his 4.18 ERA is good enough to keep his team in some games. In fact his WHIP is currently a career best at 1.299, and his 7.8 SO/9 is a full 1.0 above his career average. He has suffered from the longball though giving up 1.7 per nine, which is not something new for Gorzo as he has a career average of 1.0 per nine but has allowed 1.5 or more three times in his career.
He has five quality starts this season, his most recent in his last outing. Gorzo threw a gem in his previous outing, getting the loss after throwing seven innings of one run ball which saw him strike out more batters than he walked, and having more strikeouts than hits allowed, giving up one walk and seven hits to eight strikeouts.
Gorzo has some very hefty platoon splits though, something the Pirates should try their best to take advantage of. Thus far he has allowed twelve homers on the season. Righties have hit eleven of them.
In fact Gorzo has allowed just three XBH to left handed hitters, he has allowed twenty one to right handed hitters. That shows in the slash line too, righties are hitting .283/.354/.500 while lefties are hitting just .128/.180/.255. What’s a bit surprising to me is that the BAbip against righties isn’t extreme, it’s actually quite fair at .306.
Tommy made three starts last season against the Bucs, failing to record a decision in any of them. Despite making three starts he only pitched 12.2 innings and posted an ERA of 3.55. Not a terrible ERA from what those innings totals would indicate. He also had a pretty hefty WHIP of 1.816 against the Pirates, which would also indicate that he would give up a ton of runs.
The discrepancy? He allowed five runs against the Pirates last year, all of them came in his first outing against the Bucs. This outing lasted 5.0 innings and he would give up nine hits. The Pirates would win that game 10-6.
His second outing was another 5.0 inning outing, this one much better, allowing zero runs on just four hits. The Pirates would again win this game, this time by a much more reasonable score of 2-0.
His third and final outing of the season lasted just 2.2 innings in which Gorzo did not allow a run but gave up two hits. Gorzelanny left that game after taking a Jose Tabata line drive to his pitching hand. He will be happy to know that won’t happen this time around as Jose Tabata is on the 15 Day Disabled List.
The Cubs would go on to win that game by a score of 5-3, the first time they beat the Pirates that season when Gorzelanny started.
Gorzo has just two more appearances against the Pirates, picking up one win in his first appearance against the Bucs on 7/15/2009 at Wrigley Field. Gorzo was good enough, pitching five innings of three hit, one run ball, while striking out eight and walking three.
His only other appearance came on September 8th, a .1 IP relief appearance in which he got an out on just two pitches.
John Lannan (26) LHP
Lannan is having himself a career season up until this point. His 5-5 record puts him on pace to beat his top win total of nine, and his 3.48 ERA is pretty solid, while also being .40 points lower than his career best of 3.88, accomplished in 2009. All of his important secondary numbers are either better, or basically the same as his career averages and he has just been a pretty solid pitcher for the surprising Nats.
The Pirates have already seen Lannan twice this season going 1-1 in his starts. His only decision against the Bucs came in the first outing. Lannan gave up four runs on five hits over 5.2 IP to pick up his second loss of the season.
His second outing was solid though allowing just two runs over 6.1, but allowing seven hits. He has struggled a bit with his control against the Bucs thus far, posting seven strikeouts but six walks.
Since we last saw Lannan he has been superb. In the eight starts since that second game he is 3-1 with an ERA of just 2.49. Even though he has been pretty good since then he has just four quality starts and has failed to go six innings or more three times. Still guys aren’t hitting him, his slash line against is just .237/.300/.332 in those eight games.
Lannan has been lights out at home so far, a fact which doesn’t bode well for the Buccos. Lannan is 3-2 with an ERA of just 1.81 in Washington this year. He has given up just 39 hits in 49.2 home innings so far. Compare that with his road numbers, 2-3 with an ERA of 5.18, 61 hits in 48.2 IP and you can see what his problem has been on the road. Too many damn hits. In fact his OPS of .600 at home balloons to .829 when he goes on the road.
At the beginning of this season Lannan was 1-3 in six starts against the Buccos with an ERA of 4.67 in six career starts. Now, in eight starts, his career numbers haven’t changed all that much. He has picked up the aforementioned loss, but he lowered his ERA marginally down to 4.63. Lannan has allowed an excessive 56 hits in 46.2 IP, and his WHIP is 1.521. All that points to a pretty mediocre career against the Bucs, and what should be a decent shot at competing in this game.
LIvan Hernandez (36) RHP
The old man continues his “renaissance” , though he has tapered off a bit since I wrote this:
Hernandez is doing it again too. He is already 2-1 in his four starts and he is sporting a very nice 2.88 ERA. He has cut down on the walks thus far, but his SO/9 is nearly identical to last year. This is a guy that needs to get outs from his defense, but surprisingly his WHIP is on track to be the lowest of his career. It’s way too early to say that Livan Hernandez is going to have a career year, but the early signs have to be encouraging for the Nationals. The real question is will he be able to hold up at the age of 36? Only time will tell.
Well his ERA is up to 3.81 now, still pretty respectable, but going the wrong way. That sterling WHIP is no longer on pace to come close to his career best of 1.209, sitting at 1.362. He has actually improved his SO/9 numbers to 5.6 per nine, which is exactly in line with his career average. The BB/9 is still down from last season but only slightly so now, 2.6 from 2.7 last season.
The Buccos beat up on Hernandez pretty good at PNC Park earlier this season, putting up seven runs (although only four were earned) on nine hits over six innings giving Hernandez his second loss of the season. Those seven runs would be all the Bucs scored but it was more than enough, winning 7-2. Hernandez walked four batters while striking out only two, struggle city.
Since that beating Hernandez has been pretty average, posting a 3.94 ERA with a record of 3-6 in twelve starts.
Father Time has been pretty good at home, his 4-2 record substantially better than his 1-6 on the road. His home ERA (2.48) and OPS (.641) are also much better than his road ERA (5.13) and OPS (.861).
Pirates seems to have a chance though! Livan Hernandez is just 5-6 lifetime against the Buccos. His 5.55 ERA is nothing to write home about and the fact that he has given up 126 hits over just 99.0 IP is another solid factor in the Pirates perceived success against him. The Pirates roughed him up once this year, here’s to hoping they can do it again!
Jason Marquis (32) RHP
And finally we get to former Cubbie Jason Marquis. If you are still reading this at this point in time, you are awesome. Marquis is having a fine season with the Nationals, putting up a 7-2 record in sixteen starts, good for the most wins on the team. He is also tops on the Nationals in H/9 allowed….. but that’s not exactly a positive aspect, for him at least.
Still Marquis is having one of the best seasons of his career, probably tops amongst years where he was a full time starter. Lets not forget this is the man who rattled off six ten plus wins seasons in a row before an injury riddled season last season. He might not have the best ERA, or the gaudiest secondary numbers but teams just seem to win for him.
This will be his second start of the season against the Bucs, he picked up the win in his first outing, giving up just three runs in six innings in the Nationals 6-3 win on April 24.
It really seems like Nationals pitchers are really benefiting from their home park. Marquis is another pitcher with a substantially better ERA at home. In fact Marquis has yet to lose at home, coming into this series with a 4-0 record in six starts. His ERA at home is 2.13, but on the road it skyrockets to 4.74. Must be something about Nationals Park?
A lot of people think of Jason Marquis as a Pirates killer and to a point I think that might be true. He hasn’t exactly “dominated” the Pirates over his twenty seven games (twenty three starts), but he has gotten his share of wins. A 12-6 record is very good, and the 3.60 ERA is solid enough, but it’s hardly dominant. When I think of team killers I think of guys like Mike Hampton and Yovanni Gallardo who consistently came in and completely shut down the Bucs. Jason Marquis has just been a good pitcher, and that doesn’t take away from him, just wouldn’t consider him a Pirate-killer like many will claim.
|Player||vs. Gorzelanny||vs. Lannan||vs. Hernandez||vs. Marquis||vs. Nationals|
Charlie Morton (27) RHP
Morton looks to rebound after a few really bad starts which led to his turn being skipped in the rotation due to concerns about arm fatigue. Since pitching seven innings of two run ball on June 4th Morton has been terrible, putting up a 2-1 record over three starts and lasting just 11 total innings. He gave up 26 hits over those 11 innings and allowed 17 runs, 15 of which were earned runs. He looked an awful like the Morton of last season in these outings so the time off was definitely needed.
Hopefully Morton can get back on track, he already has seven wins, and before that horrible skid his ERA was just 2.52, so if his arm was tired that would go a long way in explaining what went wrong. It also could just be a case of batters finally adjusting to the Pirates pitching. Some of our guys have struggled a bit as of late, looking at you Kevin Correia, and maybe we are just waiting for Ray Searage to make his next move.
Morton’s home/away splits aren’t too hefty, but he has been better on the road. In fact he has a solid 5-1 record on the road, and his ERA of 3.18 is over a run lower than his 4.43 at home. His big problem has obviously been lefties. It doesn’t matter if they are good or bad, Morton can not get lefties out. He is giving up an obscene and almost unbelievable line of .375/.443/.493 against lefties. Hopefully he found himself a decent cutter or something while skipping his start because his current arsenal is not doing it at all against the left handed batters.
Morton didn’t pitch against the Nats in either of the first two series but he has made two starts against them, picking up the loss in both. He has a cumulative ERA of 5.59 after allowing ten runs (six earned) over just 9.2 IP. He has given up 14 hits , two of them leaving the yard, and has walked four batters compared to just three strikeouts.
James McDonald (26) RHP
McDonald really continues to be tough to get a handle on. He has clearly struggled and hasn’t been near the pitcher he was last season after coming over from the Dodgers. It’s nowhere near time to give up on the guy but he is definitely a work in progress.
All that said he had a really positive outing last time and probably should have gotten a better decision, aka a win. McDonald pitched six innings of five hit ball, giving up just two unearned runs. He also got his ERA down to a season low of 4.52, fairly respectable, especially considering his start. The Pirates lost in his last outing, but the Pirates had three straight wins when McDonald pitched prior to that game against the Red Sox.
JMac has pretty much been a disaster on the road thus far, although his 3-3 record wouldn’t really indicate it. He has an ERA of 6.25 in eight road starts, allowing 50 hits over just 40.1 IP and getting hit up for a massive OPS against of .902.
He, like Morton, also hasn’t been too great against left handed batters. He is allowing a line of .303/.387/.424 against southpaws, and has an atrocious .95 SO/BB, walking 19 while striking out 18.
McDonald did not pitch against the Nats in either series thus far. Lifetime it’s been struggle city though. He only has three appearances, all of them in relief for the Dodgers organization. He has given up four hits in just 2.1 IP though and has allowed two earned runs. Honestly though, 12 batters is way too small a sample size to even begin to judge him.
Brad Lincoln (26) RHP
Well if Lincoln brings nothing else at least he can hit the damn ball a bit, no small contribution on this offensively challenged ball club. Everyone knows about Lincoln’s struggles last season. He had a pretty dominant minor league season but then came up to the bigs and struggled mightily. Many ultimately contribute his struggles to the tinkering of one Joe Kerrigan, and many also say said tinkering is what ultimately led to Kerrigan’s demise with the Pirates organization. So if anything Lincoln’s call up was positive in that it led to the ousting of that egomaniac and horrible pitching coach.
I wouldn’t say Lincoln has been great so far this season. The fastball still looks a bit too straight, but he has been coming on a bit as of late. You’d like to see a lower ERA (4.14), but he seems to be the most MLB ready arm we have. He has started to come on a bit. He has seven quality starts in his last ten games, although he got roughed up quite a bit in his last outing, giving up five earned on seven hits over just 5.0 IP. Still he has 53 strikeouts to just 13 BB over that span and his ERA is just 3.08, which isn’t bad considering how bad his last outing was. Lincoln earned this call up and hopefully he can show us something this time.
It looks like Lincoln will pitch the late game, which kind of sucks because he has been much better during the day. He is just 2-6 with an ERA of 5.09 at night, compared to 4-1 with a 2.95 ERA during the day.
Lincoln actually made his Major League debut against the Nationals last season. He didn’t get a decision but the Pirates lost the game 7-5. Lincoln gave up five earned on seven hits over six innings in that outing. Hopefully this season debut against the Nationals goes a little bit smoother than last years.
Kevin Correia (30) RHP
Ugh, two series in a row I have to talk about Kevin Corriea. That means two series in a row I have to say that I don’t dislike the guy! Really I don’t! I appreciate everything that K-Core has done for this ballclub. Dude got his tenth win in his last outing! And while I don’t think four runs and five hits over six innings, while giving up two homers, is a great outing he still got the win! He has exceeded expectations and he is a huge reason why we are relevant at the end of June.
That said…. really? Correia has completely plummeted back to earth. He might be 2-2 over his last five games, but he has done it with an ERA of 4.75 and giving up an average of one homer per game. Correia has just one quality start over that span, and has been hit fairly well (.277/.320/.471) despite having a low BAbip of .286.
Okay, enough of that or I’m just going to further this myth that I hate Kevin Correia. Lets get to something more positive here….. Kevin Correia faced the Nationals on April 24 this season and he picked up his second loss of the season…. DAMNIT more negativity. The outing was the first real bad outing of Correia’s season lasting just 4.2 IP. K-Core allowed eleven hits (eleven????) including two homers, but somehow only gave up five runs. The Pirates would end up dropping that game 5-2.
Positive….. positive…. positive… OH YEAH Kevin Correia will be pitching in Washington! Let’s be honest here Kevin Correia could get Obamacare passed in Washington, Kevin Correia could win a Michael Jackson look alike contest in Washington, Kevin Correia could field a decent football team in Washington! Why? Not because of his past history in Washington but because all Kevin Correia does is win when he’s on the road. That’s right positivity time from this guy. Kevin Correia is an awesome 8-2 on the road this season, allowing just 51 hits over his 63.2 IP. In fact his OPS on the road this year is just .619, compared to his crappy home OPS of .822.
Now, I’d like you to turn your attention to his history pitching in the “great” District of Columbia…. has he ever lost there? You bet your ass he hasn’t. He is 1-0 in his two DC appearances, one of which was a start. HUZZAH! K-CORE FOR CONGRESS!