Series Preview: Pirates vs. Mets

Pirates vs Mets

Pittsburgh Pirates (39-39)

vs.

New York Mets (36-42)

Thursday, June 26th – 7:05 pm
Friday, June 27th – 7:05 pm
Saturday, June 28th – 4:05 pm
Sunday, June 29th – 1:35 pm

PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA

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Probable Pitchers

Thursday – Vance Worley vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka

Friday – Brandon Cumpton vs. Jacob deGrom

Saturday – Gerrit Cole vs. Jon Niese

Sunday – TBD vs. Bartolo Colon

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News, Notes, Storylines

– Big, big homestand for the Bucs. Four with the Mets, three with the Diamondbacks, three with the Phillies — three subpar teams who are a combined 28 games under .500. Time to make some ground leading up to an important St. Louis/Cincinnati roadtrip right before the All-Star break.

– Pirates are 21-18 at home … Mets are 19-21 on the road.

Gregory Polanco is helping reignite the Pirates, writes MLB.com’s Hal Bodley. Yesterday marked the first game of Polanco’s MLB career in which he didn’t reach base. The Bucs are 9-6 since his arrival.

Andrew McCutchen and, yes, Josh Harrison are among the hardest hitters in Major League Baseball:

– Thursday’s matchup features two pleasant surprises — Daisuke Matsuzaka and Vance Worley.

Jose Tabata will make his 2014 Triple-A debut on Thursday, batting third and playing right field for the Indy Indians.

– New York center fielder Juan Lagares returns from the disabled list on Thursday, optioning shortstop Wilmer Flores to AAA. The Mets will have six outfielders on their active roster.

– Captain David Wright has a nine-game hitting streak entering the series.

– PNC Park promotions this weekend: Fireworks/Faith Night on Thursday; Free Shirt on Friday; Cutch MVP bobblehead on Saturday; Neil Walker Poster/Kids Day/Photofest on Sunday.

– By the way — today is the 13th anniversary of Lloyd McClendon‘s stolen base:

lloyd mcclendon steals first base

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Opponent Blogs

Metsblog | Amazin’ Avenue | Mets Merized

What they’re saying:

[quote_simple]”Can you tell that I’m not too high on the Pirates? It probably started when I looked at last season’s playoff roster and thought, “You know, they’re not that much more talented than the Mets.” That was intended to be optimism for the Amazins, but now that both clubs are lousy, it’s pessimism for Pittsburgh.” – Amazin Avenue Preview[/quote_simple]

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Player to Watch

gerrit cole pirates

Gerrit Cole, who will be activated from the disabled list and start on Saturday afternoon. He’s been out for roughly three weeks with shoulder fatigue, which hopefully doesn’t become a lingering issue. He didn’t miss much of a beat with his long tossing, side sessions, and sim games, and appears ready to go without any rehab starts at a minor league level. Cole’s been okay in his sophomore season – not totally dominant but still very good. It’d be nice to see him rise up and bolster the Bucco rotation.

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Prediction Time

Pirates take three of four. Need to. No team has really emerged in the Wild Card race, and the Bucs sit just 3.5 out of the second spot. Saturday marks the halfway point of the season. This club needs to get over & stay over .500 if they want to make any progress, and this series/homestand is a really good chance to make a move.

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates @ Mets

Pirates vs Mets

Pittsburgh Pirates (22-27)

@

New York Mets (22-27)

Monday, May 26th – 1:10 pm
Tuesday, May 27th – 7:10 pm
Wednesday, May 28th – 1:10 pm

Citi Field – Queens, NY

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A 4-2 homestand is in the books, as the Bucs split with the Orioles and took three of four from the Nationals. The Pirates still are not where they want to be, but they’ve won 10 of their last 17 and are chipping away towards .500. A ten-game roadtrip is up next, starting on Memorial Day in New York before heading out to LA and San Diego. The Pirates desperately need wins on this trip and really can’t afford to lose seven or eight (or more) games. Stay afloat into June, and hey, maybe that Gregory Polanco guy will be debuting sometime during the next homestand.

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Probable Pitchers

Monday – Brandon Cumpton vs. Jacob deGrom

Tuesday – Edinson Volquez vs. Jon Niese

Wednesday – Charlie Morton vs. Bartolo Colon

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News, Notes, Storylines

– The Pirates are just 6-14 on the road this year … The Mets are 11-16 at home.

– To make room for Brandon Cumpton on the active roster, the Pirates designated Vin Mazzaro for assignment. He pitched just five times since being added to the bullpen on May 3rd, allowing four runs in 10.1 innings. With the DFA of Mazzaro, the team now has two open spots on its 40-man roster.

– The Bucs could be catching a tired Mets team, who split a doubleheader with the D-backs on Sunday. Quick turnaround for them in Monday’s matinee.

Ike Davis, hitting .303/.395/.424, makes his return to New York. Hope he can stick it to his old team.

– Former Pirate prospect Vic Black, traded to NYM in the Marlon Byrd/John Buck trade last August, was called up to be the Mets’ 26th man for Sunday’s doubleheader … but was immediately sent back to Triple-A Las Vegas. He has yet to appear in the big leagues this season, though he pitched in 15 games for New York last September.

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Opponent Blogs

Metsblog | Amazin’ Avenue | Mets Merized

What they’re saying:

[quote_simple]”After a promising 15-11 start that had the marketing department proclaiming that the Mets were back in business, the team has gone 6-15 to put them at 21-26 for the season. The team has lost seven of their last nine games and appear headed for another very long and disappointing season.” – Mets Merized ‘The Blame Game: Why Are The Mets So Bad, Again?‘ [/quote_simple]

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Player to Watch

Brandon Cumpton, the 25-year-old right-hander who takes over for Wandy Rodriguez in the rotation and starts on Monday afternoon. He’s looked promising in seven career MLB starts, pretty much dominant in all but one inning (second game of the Baltimore doubleheader, gave up 4 runs in sixth). It’s pretty clear cut: Cumpton gives the Pirates a better chance to win right now than Wandy Rodriguez, and is very deserving of the spot. He’s not overpowering but knows how to locate his sinker, mixes in a slider and could probably stand to develop his change as a third pitch. Out of 192 pitches in his two spot starts this year, Cumpton’s heavily relied on the sinker (136 pitches, 70.83%) and barely noticed his changeup (7 pitches, 3.65%). He keeps the ball on the ground and doesn’t walk many batters. I’m excited to see what he can do with an extended look in the rotation. #StraightOuttaCumpton

Straight Outta Cumpton

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Prediction Time

Pirates take two of three to win another series. Need it.

Go Bucs

Breaking down the Pirates-Mets Trade

Marlon Byrd John Buck Pittsburgh Pirates

A deeper look at the trade that went down on Tuesday afternoon…

Who’s in:
Marlon Byrd, outfielder
John Buck, catcher

Who’s out:
Dilson Herrera, minor league infielder
– A player to be named later

Roster moves:

To clear space on the 40-man roster…

- Russ Canzler designated for assignment
Kyle McPherson transferred to 60-day DL

To clear space on the 25-man roster…

- Tony Sanchez optioned to Class AA Altoona.
– Jeff Locke optioned to Altoona.
Moving them to Altoona is a creative move, designed so that they can bring them back next week when the Curve’s season ends.

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Marlon Byrd

The Pirates are getting exactly what they need with Byrd, and that’s right field offense. While the Bucs’ right fielders have put up some of the worst production in baseball, Byrd has enjoyed a career year. It’s hard to ignore this stat line:

.285/.330/.518 with 21 HR, 71 RBI, 135 wRC+, 3.5 WAR

There are some reasons to be skeptical. Age always seems to be a concern, and Byrd turns 36 on Friday. Earlier in the month, Terry Collins said that the outfielder “may be completely out of gas” (although he’s done great since then). His batting average on balls in play has been ridiculously high this year (.350), suggesting he may fall back to earth a bit. Furthermore, this huge season comes just one year after his awful 2012, in which he hit only .210/.243/.245 over 48 games in Chicago and Boston.

Still, there’s plenty of hope for Byrd. He’s been great since the All-Star break, hitting .311 with a .905 OPS. The Byrdman has punished left-handed pitching at a .345/.383/.597 clip. His power is legit, with most of his taters having enough distance to leave PNC:

Marlon  Byrd Home Runs PNC Park Overlay

We saw him take batting practice when the Mets were in town in July. He was absolutely crushing the ball and looked like a different Marlon Byrd out there.

Honestly, I think it’s a good move to bring in Byrd. The Bucs need a jump-start right now and he could provide it. The timing is right, with Starling Marte currently on the 15-day DL. Hopefully Byrd can continue his current success all the way into October.

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John Buck

Buck, a 2010 All-Star, is hitting .215 with 15 HR and 60 RBI this season. He defense is decent behind the dish; he’s thrown out 30% of would-be base stealers in 2013.

His power is a little deceiving: 10 of his 15 bombs came in the first 25 games of the season, plus only two HR since the beginning of July.

Still, his homers have had plenty of distance:

John  Buck Home Runs PNC Park Overlay

Ah, he’s a leader:

John  Buck veteran leadership

Sounds like Brandon Inge, no? Still probably a good idea to bring in the veteran for the stretch run. Definitely a solid insurance piece if someone gets injured.

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Dilson Herrera

Herrera, who appeared in the Futures Game at Citi Field this year, is a 19-year-old second baseman from Colombia. He was playing for the A-level West Virginia prior to the trade, hitting .265/.330/.421 in 109 games.

Considering Byrd and Buck are just rentals, it sounds like the Mets are getting a good return:

Dilson  Herrera scouting report

Herrera himself was a little upset… “confused & sad”:

Dilson  Herrera Twitter

Herrera isn’t expected to make it to the big leagues for a few years. While he’s developing into a nice prospect, his loss won’t be too damaging to the organization.

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The Player to be Named Later

While it’s unsure who the PTBNL will be just yet, it sounds like it’ll be a familiar player. Take these as you will:

Pirates Mets Player to be Named Later

Pirates Mets Player to be Named Later Marlon  Byrd

UPDATE:

The player to be named later is relief pitcher Vic Black. The 25-year-old right-hander appeared in three games for the Bucs this season, giving up two runs in four innings. He was excellent in the minors the last two years between Altoona and Indianapolis. Black has a live arm and looked to be a potential asset in the Bucco bullpen down the line. He’ll be missed, but there is definitely a supply of pitchers to replace him. Good luck in New York, Vic.

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Trade Reaction

– “So at the price, Byrd is a good get for the Pirates.” [FanGraphs]

– “It’s been apparent that the Pirates’ offense needed something down the stretch here, so let’s hope that Marlon Byrd is it.” [WHYGAVS]

– “This is what winning teams do.” [TribLIVE]

– “The Mets won this trade. I doubt the Pirates really care.” [Pirates Prospects]

– “Not a bad return for a month of John Buck and Marlon Byrd.” [Mets Merized]

– “We can’t say we didn’t see this coming.” [Amazin’ Avenue]

Game #93: Mets 4, Pirates 2

In 2012, the Bucs closed out the first half with an unreal offensive explosion and were on top of the baseball world.  On Sunday, they had a chance to close out the first half by winning their 57th game – as many has they had in 2010.

Gerrit Cole, after starting his career 4-0, has lost three straight starts, with the third coming on Sunday.  The Mets were able to tag him for three runs in the first, but to Cole’s credit, he was able to cruise through the next four innings without much trouble.  He finished the day with five strikeouts and six hits given up in five innings – his shortest outing of the season.

For the Mets, Dillon Gee continued his success against the Pirates.  He yielded just one run – on a Starling Marte double – in 6.2 innings.  The Bucs could only muster one more run against the bullpen, despite having a chance to tie the game in the eighth.  After Jordy Mercer led off with a single, Cutch doubled.  Pedro represented the go-ahead run at that point, but struck out swinging.  Jose Tabata was at least able to get one run home, but that was all they could push across.  Bobby Parnell was able to suppress a small rally in the ninth to earn a save, avoiding the sweep.

Pirates (56-37) – Mets (41-50)

Win: Gee (7-7)
Loss: Cole (4-3)
Save: Parnell (17)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Game #92: Pirates 4, Mets 2

The final series of the unofficial first half continued with a fireworks night against the Mets.  A.J. Burnett made his first start at home since returning from the DL and although his struggle for run support continued, the Bucs ended up with another win.

New York jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a run in both the fourth and fifth innings.  Had it not been for a nice play where Pedro Alvarez fielded a weak grounder and cut down Eric Young Jr., the Mets would have been up 3-0.

After really struggling against Carlos Torres through the first four innings, Garrett Jones finally sparked the offense with a leadoff double in the fifth. Jordy Mercer, Friday night’s hero, picked up an RBI with a single, getting the Pirates on the board.  Later in the inning, Jose Tabata had a chance to tie the game up with runners on first and second and just one out, but bounced into an inning-ending double play.  Burnett exited after 5.2 innings, but Cutch got him off the hook with a game-tying homer in the sixth off of David Aardsma.  Cutch later gave the Bucs the lead after they put together a big seventh inning against Greg Burke.  Russell Martin drew a bases-loaded walk to put up an insurance run, which Justin Wilson, Mark Melancon, and Jason Grilli didn’t need anyway.  Grilli made quick work of the Mets in the ninth, putting the Pirates just one win short of their total from the 2010 season.

Pirates (56-36) – Mets (40-50)

Win: Wilson (6-2)
Loss: Burke (0-2)
Save: Grilli (29)

BOX SCORE

carlton-banks

Go Bucs