Series Preview: Pirates @ Diamondbacks

Pirates vs Dbacks

Pittsburgh Pirates (8-8)

@

Arizona Diamondbacks (8-7)

Friday, April 24th — 9:40 pm
Saturday, April 25th — 8:10 pm
Sunday, April 26th — 4:10 pm

Chase Field — Phoenix, AZ

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Winners of 6 of their last 10, the Pirates take an even 8-8 record out to Arizona to begin a nine-game road trip. While there were opportunities to make the homestand better (offensively lacking vs. Detroit), the Bucs are likely content with their sweep of the Brewers and split with the Cubs (especially after dropping the first two of that series) at this point in the season.

The Pirates could use some W’s before heading to Chicago and St. Louis, especially with their big three on the mound this weekend.

Continue reading “Series Preview: Pirates @ Diamondbacks”

Bucco Bullpen Report 4/23/15

pirates bullpen april 23

A look at the Pirates’ bullpen usage through 16 games. Green = good, relative to the rest of the bullpen; red = bad. 

Tony Watson, as usual, has 1) been good and 2) been relied upon. Tied for the most relief appearances in baseball, he’s pounding the strike zone and has yet to issue a walk. His two-inning save against the Cubs on Wednesday night was particularly important/impressive. The two killers for Watson: Todd Frazier‘s home run on Opening Day, and Welington Castillo‘s home run on Tuesday night, hence the not-great ERA/FIP so far. Other than those two, however: spotless.

Jared Hughes struggled on Wednesday night, but otherwise has been a horse. He’s actually striking people out — it took him 21 appearances to collect 10 K in 2014, but he’s already accomplished that through nine outings so far. Pair that with his usual dose of ground balls, and Hughes has been an important bridge from the starters to late-inning relievers in the early going.

Arquimedes Caminero‘s name is familiar to Pirate fans by now, thanks to his flame-throwing right arm. Not only is he getting called upon often, he’s getting the job done (for the most part). Caminero’s getting a ton of strikeouts and ground balls, and his role may only increase from here.

mark melancon

– After being a sure-thing in his first two seasons as a Pirate, Mark Melancon‘s early performance has been concerning to say the least. His ugly velocity loss has been well-documented, while his strikeouts are down and walks are up. Melancon was more effective on Thursday afternoon — he was locating particularly well, and velocity isn’t everything if you can do that… but it’s still a very notable trend to keep an eye on moving forward. They’re saying he’s healthy and will keep his job, but if he’s not, that’s a serious problem for both Melancon and the Pirates.

– Where is Antonio Bastardo? He’s faced only 15 batters thus far, nine of which came in low-leverage situations. There was a need for Hurdle to have a second lefty in his bullpen, but there seems to be a lack of trust early on… This report via Rob Biertempfel late in spring training wasn’t exactly glowing: “A longtime NL scout, who has watched Antonio Bastardo from Class A to the majors, wonders if the lefty can handle pressure situations. “If he comes into the game when you’re either two runs ahead or two behind, his stuff is excellent,” the scout said. “However, when he comes into a tie game or you’re one run ahead, he tries too hard, and he walks everybody. It drives you crazy, and that’s why he was available. To me, he’s better in the middle (innings) than he is as a setup or closer.” There’s a dramatic split between Bastardo’s numbers in low-leverage (.116 BAA, .353 OPS, 3.83 SO/BB) and high-leverage (.270 BAA, .844 OPS, 1.60 SO/BB) roles.”

The Pirates will head out to Arizona to begin a nine-game road trip on Friday.

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Cubs

Pirates vs Cubs

Pittsburgh Pirates (6-6)

vs.

Chicago Cubs (6-5)

Monday, April 20th — 7:05 pm
Tuesday, April 21st — 7:05 pm
Wednesday, April 22nd — 7:05 pm
Thursday, April 23rd — 12:35 pm

PNC Park — Pittsburgh, PA

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Fresh off a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pirates now host the Chicago Cubs to wrap up a long homestand. Most eyes will be on the Penguins-Rangers Stanley Cup playoff series this week, but an intriguing matchup will be taking place across the river at PNC Park. It’s still early, but this four-game set will have an impact on the NL Central standings.


Probable Pitchers

Monday — A.J. Burnett (0-1, 2.25) vs. Jake Arrieta (1-1, 1.98)

Tuesday — Francisco Liriano (0-1, 2.08) vs. Travis Wood (1-1, 2.31)

Wednesday — Vance Worley (1-1, 5.84) vs. Jason Hammel (1-0, 5.11)

Thursday — Jeff Locke (2-0, 1.93) vs. Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 6.10)


News, Notes, Storylines

– Due to the Pens’ series, the Monday and Wednesday Bucco games will not be televised on ROOT Sports.

– After being hit by a pitch in the chest on Sunday, Jordy Mercer will understandably sit out of Monday night’s contest. Jung-Ho Kang gets the nod at shortstop.

– The Pirates will miss Jon Lester this week, as he pitched on Sunday at Wrigley. A Cole-Lester matchup would have been fun; guess we’ll have to wait a little longer for that.

– Bucs are planning on wearing their new camo alternate jerseys for Thursday home games, so we should be seeing those for the first time this Thursday.


Opponent Blogs

Bleed Cubbie Blue | Bleacher Nation 

What they’re saying:

“The Cubs have been a favorite Pirates opponent in recent years (they’ve gone 6-14 against the Pirates over the past two seasons, for example). I predict the series will split, two wins each, and the Cubs will win the first and third games of the series.” – BCB


Player to Watch

kris bryant

Kris Bryant… who else? Pittsburgh will get its first look at Chicago’s young phenom, who made his much anticipated big league debut on Friday. Bryant picked up three hits (one double) and three walks in his first 14 plate appearances. Could we see his first MLB homer at PNC…?


Go Bucs

Starling Marte & The Longest Home Runs at PNC Park

starling marte

Entering Friday’s game, Starling Marte had collected just three hits in his first 29 bats of the 2015 season while carrying a hideous 42.4% strikeout rate. He was bumped down to the sixth spot of the lineup, but managed to do some good things: infield hit, stolen base, a pair of runs scored… and he obliterated one to a place where baseballs simply don’t travel at PNC Park.

The cure? Jonathan Broxton. The Bucs continued their domination of the right-handed reliever, scoring three runs against him in the bottom of last night’s eighth inning. Broxton’s career ERA at PNC Park now sits at 14.44 … after serving this 92 mph fastball on a platter to Marte:

starling marte vs jonathan broxton

The landing spot:

starling marte home run

You don’t see that often. According to ESPN Home Run Tracker: 460 feet. That would be the longest at PNC since 2006 — when Home Run Tracker started — just two feet shy of Carlos Guillen‘s 462-ft shot off Ian Snell on 7/2/2006.

pnc park longest home runs

Here’s a map of the last 250 home runs at PNC Park…

longest home runs pnc park

That ball was tanked. Hopefully it gets Marte going back in the right direction.

Go Bucs