Series Preview: Pirates vs. Padres

Pirates vs Padres

Pittsburgh Pirates (61-53)

vs.

San Diego Padres (52-61)

Friday, August 8th – 7:05 pm
Saturday, August 9th – 7:05 pm
Sunday, August 10th – 1:35 pm

PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA

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Despite playing without Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Pedro Alvarez for the first time since they’ve all been in the league together (June 2010), the homestand started on a good note, as the Bucs took two of three from the Miami Marlins. They’ll welcome the Padres for the weekend, a team that isn’t good by any stretch but has managed to win 11 of 18 games since the All-Star break. The Buccos are just 1.5 games out of first and 0.5 out of a wild card spot entering the weekend.

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Probable Pitchers

Friday – Vance Worley vs. Ian Kennedy

Saturday – Francisco Liriano vs. Eric Stults

Sunday – Charlie Morton vs. Tyson Ross

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News, Notes, Storylines

– Pirates still rolling with the best home record in the NL (36-22).

– The Padres are 21-34 on the road, third-worst in baseball.

– San Diego has won 17 of their last 21 games at PNC Park. The Bucs have never won a series against the Padres at PNC.

– The Friars finally got their new general manager — A.J. Preller, former Texas assistant GM.

– Pedro Alvarez is reportedly back from the bereavement list, meaning the Bucs have a roster decision to make before gametime.

– Jerry Meals is on the the umpire crew for this series, and will be behind the plate on Friday night.

– PNC promotions this weekend: Free Shirt on Friday; Fireworks on Sunday; Kids ice cream bowl on Sunday.

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Opponent Blogs

Gaslamp Ball | Friars on Base

What they’re saying:

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Two things we know:

1)      The Padres hitters were dreadful before the All-Star break.

2)      The Padres hitters have been great since the All-Star break.

Friars on Base[/quote_simple]

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Player to Watch

It’s hard not to keep an eye out on Josh Harrison. Every time you think he’s in a slump, he picks himself right back up. As long as Cutch, Pedro, Walker are out, J-Hay is — believe it or not — an essential piece of the Pirates’ lineup. Who would’ve thought? But he’s having himself an incredible year, and this current stretch is yet another chapter: Harrison is on an 11-game hitting streak, batting .429/.462/.898 with five homers, six doubles, a triple, and four stolen bases in that span. Let’s see if he can keep it going this weekend.

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Prediction Time

Pirates will finally beat the Padres at home, winning their first series against them at PNC by taking two of three. Make it happen.

Go Bucs

Pirates Trade Target: Ian Kennedy

If you’ve been following Pirates stuff on social media recently, you’ve probably seen some fans link the team to Padres’ starter Ian Kennedy. While not a true top-of-the-rotation guy, the 29-year-old right-hander would seemingly make sense to bolster the Pirates’ staff. When looking at where the rotation stood a couple of weeks ago, I thought it made sense to “expect a typical second tier guy — like an Ian Kennedy type” if the club looks to go the starting pitching route at the deadline.

I hold off on writing these “trade target” posts until there is some sort of rumor/speculation from a big name writer; Ken Rosenthal tweeted today that the Pirates scouted Kennedy last night:

Again, he’s not a #1. But he’s what you’d expect the Pirates to go after — a solid arm with good peripherals, cheaper to acquire, fairly favorable contract situation.

Here are the numbers on the University of Southern California product:

Year Age Tm W L ERA G IP H ER HR BB SO FIP WHIP BB9 SO9
2007 22 NYY 1 0 1.89 3 19.0 13 4 1 9 15 3.77 1.158 4.3 7.1
2008 23 NYY 0 4 8.17 10 39.2 50 36 5 26 27 5.45 1.916 5.9 6.1
2009 24 NYY 0 0 0.00 1 1.0 0 0 0 2 1 10.10 2.000 18.0 9.0
2010 25 ARI 9 10 3.80 32 194.0 163 82 26 70 168 4.33 1.201 3.2 7.8
2011 26 ARI 21 4 2.88 33 222.0 186 71 19 55 198 3.22 1.086 2.2 8.0
2012 27 ARI 15 12 4.02 33 208.1 216 93 28 55 187 4.04 1.301 2.4 8.1
2013 28 TOT 7 10 4.91 31 181.1 180 99 27 73 163 4.59 1.395 3.6 8.1
2014 29 SDP 7 9 3.62 21 129.1 120 52 10 37 137 2.98 1.214 2.6 9.5
8 Yrs 60 49 3.95 164 994.2 928 437 116 327 896 3.93 1.262 3.0 8.1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/19/2014.

His best year came in 2011 when he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA over 222 innings for the D-backs.

While Kennedy’s 3.62 ERA this season doesn’t jump off the page, his peripherals look sharp. His FIP (accounting for a .317 batting average on balls in play) suggests his ERA could be under 3.00. His 9.5 K/9 is the best of his career to date and he’s issuing one less walk per nine innings compared to a year ago, leading to a career high strikeout-to-walk ratio. Opponents are hitting fewer line drives against him, his ground ball rate is up, and he’s allowing fewer home runs.

Another thing to like about Kennedy is his durability. He’s made more than 30 starts in each of the last four seasons, and is on pace for another 30+ should he stay healthy the rest of the way. His only issue over past couple years — a lacerated finger suffered while doing the dishes, forcing him to miss 10 days last May. Kennedy’s only DL stint came back in 2008 with the Yankees when he had a shoulder strain.

Kennedy is earning $6.1 million this season, his second arbitration year. That means he has around $2.5 mil left on his contract for 2014, as well as another year of control in 2015. He’s not just a rental, and would still be affordable next season. With Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez hitting the free agent market this coming offseason, a guy like Kennedy could be plugged into the rotation next year until guys like Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham are ready.

As of now — Liriano is hit or miss (with a lot more “miss” this season), Volquez is up and down, Charlie Morton is hard to figure out, Gerrit Cole is out for at least a few more weeks, Jeff Locke is surging for the time being, and Vance Worley‘s 15 minutes could be up soon. It’s not surprising that they’re looking at starting pitching, nor is it surprising that Ian Kennedy is possibly on their radar. It’ll be an interesting 12 days until the deadline.

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates @ Padres

Pirates vs Padres

Pittsburgh Pirates (26-30)

@

San Diego Padres (26-31)

Monday, June 2nd – 10:10 pm
Tuesday, June 3rd – 10:10 pm
Wednesday, June 4th – 6:40 pm

PETCO Park – San Diego, CA

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Mets series: NOOOOOOOOOOO

Dodgers series: YESSSSSSSSSS

The roadtrip turned itself around this weekend, as the Pirates took three of four from the Dodgers in LA. Now they’ll head down the coast to San Diego to meet the 26-31 Padres, a team that (like the Dodgers) has had the Bucs’ number over the last couple years. Let’s hope the Pirates keep things rolling and come home on a good note… 32 of the next 39 games (up until the All-Star break) will be against teams currently at .500 or below… Time to go to work.

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Probable Pitchers

Monday – Charlie Morton vs. Tim Stauffer

Tuesday – Gerrit Cole vs. Jesse Hahn

Wednesday – Francisco Liriano vs. Ian Kennedy

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News, Notes, Storylines

– The next three games will be for the “You Score as the Bucs Score” promotion — for each Pirate run, fans get $1 off outfield box seats for next week’s series at PNC vs. Chicago.

– The Padres will be calling up Double-A pitcher Jesse Hahn for Tuesday night’s start.

– Interesting stuff here — Charlie Morton has given up the fewest hard-hit balls in MLB this year:

Gregory Polanco Watch — In case you haven’t heard, the Astros are promoting Jon Singleton, another big time prospect. Not only that, but they also signed him to a long term deal ($10 million guaranteed, $35 million potential) which is similar to what Polanco was offered in spring training.

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Opponent Blogs

Gaslamp Ball | Friars on Base

What they’re saying:

[quote_simple]”This series is a crucial one for San Diego. They are playing a Pirates’ team that is weaker than originally expected. They must win this series to prepare for a tough test this weekend with the Washington Nationals.” – Friars on Base[/quote_simple]

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Pedro Alvarez. The Big Bull was dormant for a while, but is heating up as of late — since last Monday, he’s hit .350 (7-for-20) with a pair of doubles, a homer, and a few walks, good for a 1.009 OPS. Now would be a good time for El Toro to heat up, especially with three right-handers on the hill this week for San Diego.

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Prediction Time

Pirates take two of three. Do it.

Go Bucs

Games #150-156 Recap

The final week of home games began with a four game series against the Padres.

On Monday, it was all about Andrew Cashner.  The former Cub needed just 97 pitches to take care of the Bucs, giving up just one hit.  Jose Tabata collected the lone Pirate hit of the night with a leadoff single in the seventh, but was erased later on a double play and Cashner went on to face the minimum.  He pitched what some now call a “Maddux” – a shutout on less than 100 pitches.  A.J. Burnett was solid, but he needed to be perfect to beat Cashner, which he was not.

Pirates (87-63) – Padres (69-80)

Win: Cashner (10-8)
Loss: Burnett (8-11)

BOX SCORE

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Tuesday was rough as well, with Jeff Locke getting touched up.  Jedd Gyorko gave the Padres a 3-0 lead with a three-run jack in the third, and San Diego never relinquished the lead.  Marlon Byrd got two runs back with a two-run double off of Eric Stults, but it wasn’t enough.  The Friars tacked on two more, and earned a 5-2 win.

Pirates (87-64) – Padres (70-80)

Win: Stults (9-13)
Loss: Locke (10-6)
Save: Luke Gregerson (4)

BOX SCORE

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Wednesday night’s game was the most disappointing of the series and one of the most dreadful losses of the season.  Charlie Morton turned in an unbelievable start, going eight innings and giving up just two hits.  The Padres took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, and the Bucs’ offense stifled against Tyson Ross.  Finally in the seventh, Cutch stepped up and sent a two-run bomb into the right-center stands to make it 2-1 Bucs.  Mark Melancon entered for the ninth and was set to face the middle of the San Diego lineup.  After allowing a leadoff single, Mark retired the next two batters.  That’s when things really took a turn for the worst, and Melancon went on to give up three straight singles.  The Padres took a 3-2 lead, and Huston Street made quick work of the Bucs in the ninth to complete the comeback victory.

Pirates (87-65) – Padres (71-80)

Win: Dale Thayer (3-5)
Loss: Melancon (2-2)
Save: Street (31)

BOX SCORE

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Gerrit Cole took the hill for Thursday’s matinée, and came through with a statement victory.  He shut down the Padres for six innings, striking out 12 to set a new franchise record for rookies.  Meanwhile, the bats went to work against Ian Kennedy, and put up 10 runs.  After Cole allowed a first-inning run, Andrew McCutchen tied the game with an RBI in the bottom of the inning.  The big blows came in the fifth, when Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker both homered, and Jose Tabata chased home two with a double.  An error with the bases loaded helped the Bucs keep the pressure on the San Diego bullpen, as they went on to score four more in the seventh and eighth innings.  The 10-1 win was just what the team needed to avoid the sweep and get some momentum heading into the series with the Reds.

Pirates (88-65) – Padres (71-81)

Win: Cole (9-7)
Loss: Kennedy (6-10)

BOX SCORE

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Friday night was…yuck.  After Ryan Ludwick put the Reds up 1-0 with a two-out RBI-knock in the first, the Pirates responded by clobbering back-to-back shots to open the bottom of the inning.  Tabata’s tied the game and Walker’s made it 2-1, and PNC Park was PUMPED.  Francisco Liriano settled in, and went on to give up just two runs on three hits in eight innings.  RBI-singles by Martin, Mercer, and Tabata put the Pirates up 5-2 heading into the ninth, when Melancon entered.  Ludwick singled in-between Joey Votto and Jay Bruce being retired, and Melancon had the Reds down to their final out.  Todd Frazier, who homered earlier in the game, swung at the first pitch he saw and rolled one to Mercer at short, who uncorked an errant throw and allowed Ludwick to score.  Clint Hurdle had been ejected earlier in the game for arguing about Cutch being drilled with a pitch, so Jeff Banister was acting as manager and decided not to put Clint Barmes in for the ninth.  Mercer’s error ended up costing the Pirates the lead, as the next three Reds went on to single and tie up the game.  We headed to extras, where Kyle Farnsworth served up a one-out go-ahead home run to Votto in the tenth.  The ball just snuck over the LF wall and was tucked into the corner, but it was enough to make it 6-5 Cincinnati.  Aroldis Chapman needed just ten pitches to slam the door in the tenth, and the Reds moved back into a tie with the Bucs.

Pirates (88-66) – Reds (88-66)

Win: JJ Hoover (5-5)
Loss: Farnsworth (3-1)
Save: Chapman (38)

BOX SCORE

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A.J. Burnett made the start on Saturday night and came through with just what the team needed.  He went seven innings and gave up just two runs, while striking out 12 and setting the franchise record for most strikeouts in a season by a right-hander.  The runs he gave up came in the first and second innings, but Russell Martin sent a game-tying home run into the bleachers in the bottom of the second.  Byrd gave the Bucs the lead with a sac-fly in the sixth, and Pedro came through with an RBI-single later in the inning off of former Pirates-starter Zach Duke.  Jason Grilli made his return as the closer, and rolled a game-ending double play to put the Pirates back in front of the Reds in the standings.

Pirates (89-66) – Reds (88-67)

Win: Burnett (9-11)
Loss: Homer Bailey (11-11)
Save: Grilli (31)

BOX SCORE

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The Bucs took quite the beating on Sunday in the final regular season home game.  Jeff Locke made it through just one inning, and gave up five runs.  Five relievers were needed to finish the game, which ended with an 11-3 final.  It looked like the Pirates were going to make a comeback when Neil Walker and Travis Snider both homered, and Justin Morneau brought home a run with a sacrifice fly.  The score remained 7-3 until the eighth, when the Reds went to work again and really put the game out of reach.

Pirates (89-67) – Reds (89-67)

Win: Bronson Arroyo (14-11)
Loss: Locke (10-7)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

 

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Padres

preview SD

Pittsburgh Pirates (87-62) vs. San Diego Padres (68-80)

September 16, 2013 – 7:05 pm
September 17, 2013 – 7:05 pm
September 18, 2013 – 7:05 pm
September 19, 2013 – 12:35 pm

PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA

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Resources: Pirates Depth Chart | Bullpen Workload | Statistics

Getting swept in St. Louis last weekend didn’t look good for the Bucs, but they’ve battled back and won six of their last seven games. With just 13 games remaining in the regular season, the Pirates are deadlocked in a tie atop the NL Central and hold a magic number of 6. Up next is the San Diego Padres, who come to Pittsburgh for a four-game series.

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Probable Starters:

Game 1 – A.J. Burnett (8-10, 3.45) vs. Andrew Cashner (9-8, 3.40)

Game 2 – Jeff Locke (10-5, 3.14) vs. Eric Stults (8-13, 4.03)

Game 3 – Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.54) vs. Tyson Ross (3-8, 3.29)

Game 4 – Gerrit Cole (8-7, 3.33) vs. Ian Kennedy (3-1, 3.86)

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Batting Leaders (Among Qualifiers):

Pirates

Padres

AVG

Andrew McCutchen (.326)

Will Venable (.274)

HR

Pedro Alvarez (33)

Venable (22)

RBI

Alvarez (91)

Venable (52)

SB

Starling Marte (36)

Everth Cabrera* (37)

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Pitching Leaders (Among Qualifiers):

Pirates

Padres

Wins

Francisco Liriano (16)

Cashner, Marquis (9)

SO

A.J. Burnett (183)

Eric Stults (118)

ERA

Jeff Locke (3.14)

Andrew Cashner (3.40)

Saves

Jason Grilli (30)

Huston Street (30)

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Opponent BlogsGaslamp BallChicken FriarsPadres Public

Player to Watch: Jason Grilli, who hasn’t looked like himself on the mound recently. The 36-year-old reliever needs to turn it around quickly if he wants to be included on the postseason roster. Let’s see what Grilled Cheese can do if he gets the ball this week against San Diego. 

Go Bucs