Series Preview: Pirates vs. Marlins

Pirates vs Marlins

Pittsburgh Pirates (59-52)

vs.

Miami Marlins (54-57)

Tuesday, August 5th – 7:05 pm
Wednesday, August 6th – 7:05 pm
Thursday, August 7th – 7:05 pm

PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA

BUY TICKETS

Follow us on Twitter @ForbesToFederal.

After a long roadtrip out west, the Bucs are back for an eight-game homestand. They’ll start off with the Miami Marlins, a team they took two of three from on the road back in June. The Pirates will likely be without their star for this series, but the good news is that he’s not on the disabled list (yet).

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Probable Pitchers

Tuesday – Charlie Morton vs. Brad Hand

Wednesday – Jeff Locke vs. Tom Koehler

Thursday – Edinson Volquez vs. Jarred Cosart

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News, Notes, Storylines

– Bucs are back at PNC, where they have the best home record in the National League (34-21).

– The Marlins haven’t been terrible this season, despite losing their young ace Jose Fernandez to Tommy John surgery. They haven’t been great on the road, however, playing just .442 ball (23-29).

– Roster move: Starling Marte is back from the DL (he went 1-for-12 with 5 K in his rehab stint with Indy) – Pedro Alvarez to the bereavement list.

Andrew McCutchen update: he fractured a rib; NOT an oblique injury. He’s not going on the DL… yet.

– Welcome back to Pittsburgh: Bryan Morris, Garrett Jones, and Casey McGehee.

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Opponent Blogs

Fish Stripes | Marlin Maniac 

Check out Marlin Maniac’s Q & A with Rumbunter here.

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Player to Watch

stanton

Giancarlo Stanton. The 6’6″, 240-pound beast has carried the Marlins again this season, hitting .289 with a .935 OPS. His 4.5 WAR is fourth-best in the National League, right behind Andrew McCutchen’s 4.6. Stanton’s 26 homers and 74 RBI lead the NL. Try not to let this guy beat you.

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Prediction Time

Pirates take two of three.

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates @ Marlins

Pirates vs Marlins

Pittsburgh Pirates (32-34)

@

Miami Marlins (34-31)

Friday, June 13th – 7:10 pm
Saturday, June 14th – 4:10 pm
Sunday, June 15th – 1:10 pm

Marlins Park – Miami, FL

BUY TICKETS

Follow us on Twitter @ForbesToFederal.

The Pirates head down to Florida this weekend for three games with the Florida Miami Marlins. The Fish have been a competent team so far this season despite losing ace Jose Fernandez — they’re a game back of Washington in the NL East and have a grasp on the second Wild Card spot for the time being. The Bucs are chasing the Marlins, 2.5 games back in the Wild Card hunt, making this series a bit more important than you thought it’d be.

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Probable Pitchers

Friday – Jeff Locke vs. Nathan Eovaldi

Saturday – Charlie Morton vs. Randy Wolf

Sunday – TBD vs. Henderson Alvarez

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News, Notes, Storylines

– At 22-11, the Marlins have the second-most home wins in Major League Baseball (behind the San Francisco Giants).

– On the other hand, the Pirates have played poorly on the road (12-18).

– No word yet on who will start for the Bucs on Sunday, though all signs are pointing towards Vance Worley.

Josh Harrison is still a little banged up … Michael Martinez will start at second base on Friday night.

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Opponent Blogs

Fish Stripes | Marlin Maniac

Check out Marlin Maniac’s Q & A with Tom Smith of Rum Bunter to preview the series.

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Players to Watch

garrettjonesmarlins

The former Bucs! The Fish got three of ’em:

Garrett Jones – The old Bucco fan favorite is settling in with the Marlins, hitting .276 with eight homer runs and an .800 OPS while appearing in 62 of the team’s 65 games.

Casey McGehee – A 2012 Pirate, McGehee returned after a year in Japan and is hitting .305 out of the cleanup spot (but just one homer so far).

Bryan Morris – Dealt to Miami just 12 days ago, Morris has thrown 5.1 scoreless innings for the Fish.

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Prediction Time

I don’t know why, but …. Marlins take two of three.

Go Bucs

Pirates trade Bryan Morris

I literally had just finished typing this for “The Best & Worst of May” post…

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Bryan Morris

Morris’ stuff was praised in spring training, good enough to earn himself a spot in the Shark Tank. But he’s been forgettable lately, giving up eight runs over 12.2 May innings (5.68 ERA), and hasn’t evolved into a reliable backend reliever.

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…when I saw this on Twitter:

A little surprising to say the least.

If he’s a good pitcher, why doesn’t he pitch good?

I think back to Moneyball when Billy Beane asks his scouts, “If he’s a good hitter, why doesn’t he hit good?”

Morris, 27, was hyped up in spring training for showing an enhanced repertoire. There were eight relievers for seven spots during spring ball; Morris was a candidate to get bounced, but his strong showing kept him in Pittsburgh.

The stuff has definitely improved: his fastball is now sitting around 96-97 mph, his breaking ball has more movement on it. But he isn’t seeing consistent results. He doesn’t strike out nearly enough batters (5.3 per nine) and walks too many (4.6 per nine), not to mention he’s been knocked around this year by the opposition (.294/.386/.447). 

Some thought what he showed during spring was potential closer-type material, but it didn’t translate to the majors. At least not yet.

The Return

In return, the Pirates receive the 39th overall pick in this Thursday’s MLB Draft. This seems like a good return, no? For a guy who simply could’ve been cut, the Bucs are getting an almost first round pick (it’s the competitive balance round). It’s easy to think the team should be able to draft someone of higher value than Bryan Morris.

The State of the Shark Tank

Jason GrilliMark MelanconTony WatsonJustin WilsonJared HughesJeanmar Gomez – TBD

The top four are pretty set, barring injury. The questions lie within the bottom three:

1. A trust in Jared Hughes – The Pirates appear committed to Hughes for the time being. He’s looked better this year, despite striking out virtually no one. Hughes has stranded a ton of runners (12 inherited runners; none scored) and induced a ton of ground balls (60.7% GB rate) which is a plus.

2. Further Questioning the DFA of Vin Mazzaro – The Pirates are now in need of arms. It was weird to see them DFA Mazzaro (again) and potentially lose him rather than sending down someone with options (Hughes), pretty much going against their philosophy. Now it makes even less sense.

3. Jeanmar Gomez Love Affair – Someone in the front office just can’t let Gomez go. Opponents are hitting .291 with a .904 OPS against him this year, as he’s allowed at least one run in nine of 16 outings. Is it his ability to spot start? I don’t get it. He’s not going anywhere any time soon.

4. The Last Spot – It’s pretty much reserved for Stolmy Pimentel, though he’s still on the disabled list. We’ll know who it is by tonight’s game.

Good luck to Morris in Miami.

Go Bucs

Game #114: Pirates 5, Marlins 4

The Bucs went for the sweep on Thursday afternoon… and picked it up in dramatic fashion.

Miami jumped on Gerrit Cole for two runs in the first inning, then Christian Yelich‘s first MLB homer made it 4-0 in the fifth. Not Cole’s best day on the mound (5.0 IP, 4 runs, 6 hits).

With young stud Jose Fernandez pitching for the Marlins, it looked like the Bucs didn’t have much of a chance. However – in typical 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates fashion – they kept chipping away. They got two runs in the fifth off Fernandez (RBI singles by Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez); he was done for the day after that.

Chad Qualls entered the game for the Fish in the seventh and things got interesting. Still down 4-2, the Buccos loaded the bases for Walker. Lefty Mike Dunn came in to turn him around, but Neil got the job done from the right-side, hitting a sacrifice fly. Alvarez followed with a walk, battling the count from 0-2 to 3-2 and drawing a questionable ball four call to take the free pass. Gaby Sanchez, pinch-hitting for Garrett Jones, hit the second sac fly of the inning to tie the ballgame. The Pirates had a great opportunity one batter later, as Adeiny Hechavarria bobbled a grounder off the bat of Tony Sanchez – everyone was safe, loading the bases with two away. Unfortunately, Josh Harrison grounded out to end the threat.

The Shark Tank did their thing – Justin Wilson got out of a big jam, Mark Melancon was solid as always, and Jared Hughes did a good job of stopping the middle of Miami’s lineup.

While J-Hay couldn’t do the job in the seventh, he started off the tenth with a base hit up the middle. Clint Barmes then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance him to second. Jose Tabata grounded out and Starling Marte was intentionally walked, bringing up the final position player on the bench to pinch-hit: Russell Martin. He fouled off a pair, then drew three consecutive balls. Finally, Martin ripped Steve Ames‘ payoff pitch down the left field line to bring home Harrison and raise the jolly roger.

Another unbelievable game in the Pirates’ storybook season. That’s a great sweep to finish off an excellent 9-2 homestand. 70 wins!

Pirates (70-44) – Marlins (43-70)

Win: Hughes (2-2)
Loss: Ames (0-1)

BOX SCORE

carlton-banks

Go Bucs

Game #113: Pirates 4, Marlins 2

After Josh Harrison‘s dramatic walk-off HR on Tuesday, the Bucs and Marlins met again on Wednesday night. The start of the game was delayed more than a half-hour due to rain.

Charlie Morton got the start and pitched very well. He struggled a bit early on, surrendering two runs on three hits during the fourth inning. However, Morton settled in nicely after that, retiring the final 10 batters he faced. His final line: 7.0 IP, 2 runs, 6 hits, 5 K, 0 BB. In typical Ground Chuck fashion, he induced 13 groundouts vs. 0 flyouts.

With the Marlins out in front 2-0, the Pirates got their scoring started in the bottom of the fourth inning. Andrew McCutchen – whose mother, Petrina, performed a great rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner before the game – launched a solo shot into the right-center field seats to make it 2-1. Cutch is 10-for-18 with a 1.541 OPS in August.

They got two more across in the fifth frame to take the lead. Morton helped his own cause with an RBI single, then Jordy Mercer scored on Tom Koehler‘s wild pitch.

Just for a little insurance, Pedro Alvarez brought home Neil Walker on a sac fly in the eighth.

Mark Melancon shut it down in the ninth inning, securing his seventh save of the season.

Another solid win for the Bucs and win #69. They’ll go for the sweep on Thursday – Gerrit Cole vs. Jose Fernandez rematch.

Pirates (69-44) – Marlins (43-69)

Win: Morton (4-3)
Loss: Koehler (3-7)
Save: Melancon (7)

carlton-banks

Go Bucs