Tigers/Pirates Game Preview 5/29

By Jason Shetler

After splitting the two game series in Detroit, the Pirates now host the Tigers in a two game set. Game time is 7:05 on ROOT Sports and 93.7 The Fan. 

Pitching Matchup: Anibal Sanchez (5-4, 2.38 ERA) vs A.J. Burnett (3-5, 2.57 ERA)

Starting Lineups 

Tigers: 

Pirates: LF Starling Marte, 2B Neil Walker, CF Andrew McCutchen, 1B Garrett Jones, C Russell Martin, 3B Pedro Alvarez, RF Travis Snider, SS Jordy Mercer, P A.J. Burnett

Game Notes

Anibal Sanchez has a 2.35 ERA in three career starts against the Pirates at PNC Park. 

Miguel Cabrera is just 4-for-20 lifetime vs A.J. Burnett. 

Neil Walker is batting .429 in his last five games. 

A.J. Burnett has struggled against the Tigers, posting a 5.27 ERA against them in ten career starts. 

 

Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

Three Pirates Prospects Appear on Keith Law’s Midseason Top 25

By Jason Shetler

ESPN.com’s Keith Law has released his Top 25 midseason prospects list. Law has three Pirates prospects on there with Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Gregory Polanco. Cole is ranked #12, after being ranked #8 on Law’s preseason rankings, Taillon moves up from #20 to #14, and Polanco, who wasn’t in the Top 25 in the preseason, makes an appearance at #22. The Pirates are the only team to have three prospects on the list. 

Pirates Bench: Better Than Last Year?

By Jason Shetler

052313_inge_600

A lot has been said of the Pirates bench and whether or not they can help the team significantly this season. Let’s compare the bench this season from last year’s bench.

First base platoon: Just like the past two seasons, Garrett Jones continues to benefit from the platoon, as he currently has an .827 OPS vs right-handed pitching. His platoon partner this season, Gaby Sanchez, has posted a 1.123 OPS against left-handed pitching. Jones’ platoon last year was Casey McGehee, who posted an .807 OPS vs southpaws while he was with the Pirates.

Infield: The Pirates bench, in terms of infield reserves, is more veteran-oriented this year with the additions of Brandon Inge and John McDonald. Inge hasn’t done much, posting a .518 OPS, while McDonald’s OPS is more of a batting average at .268. With McDonald currently on rehab, Jordy Mercer is on the bench for now. Mercer has done well in the short time he’s spent with the Pirates, hitting .294 along with an .876 OPS. Josh Harrison was the Pirates primary reserve infielder a year ago, and wasn’t too productive, hitting just .233 with a .624 OPS. The other infield reserve spot was a revolving door with the likes of Yamaico Navarro, Matt Hague and Drew Sutton. If the Pirates decide to keep Mercer on the bench by letting go of McDonald, and they can have Inge face lefty pitching from time to time while avoiding right-handers, then I think the infield bench can be better this year.

Outfield: The Pirates have gone with more of a platoon this season with Travis Snider and Jose Tabata, instead of having a primary fourth outfielder like they did last season with Nate McLouth. Snider and Tabata have combined for a .753 OPS, while McLouth struggled to post a .385 OPS, before getting released before June last year.

Catcher: Michael McKenry is the only player on the Pirates bench who has been with the Pirates since Opening Day of 2012. McKenry had himself a solid year last season as the backup catcher, hitting 12 home runs and posting a .762 OPS. So far this season, McKenry has posted a .798 OPS as the backup to Russell Martin. “The Fort” however has struggled to throw out baserunners this year, with a caught stealing percentage of just 8%. Although it didn’t seem that bad last season, the reality is he threw out just 18%, which only looked good, because Rod Barajas had an even worse percentage at 6%.

While the Pirates certainly don’t have the best bench in baseball, there seems to be more upside in terms of flexibility, offense and defense than from last year. Whether that holds true throughout the rest of the season remains to be seen.

Bucs Minor League Report 5/27

By Jason Shetler

AAA: Pawtucket defeats Indianapolis 9-1.

Charlie Morton pitched five innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits, walked three and had three strikeouts in the loss. Jerry Sands was 1-for-3 (.190) and scored the lone Indians run. Matt Hague (.295) and Jared Goedert (.227) both went 1-for-4. Alex Presley was 0-for-2 (.270) with an RBI.

AA: Richmond wins 13-2 over Altoona.

James McDonald didn’t look good in his first rehab outing, as he gave up three runs on two hits and walked four, while failing to get out of the first inning. Mel Rojas went 3-for-5 (.247) with an RBI and scored a run. Andrew Lambo was 1-for-4 (.287) with an RBI triple. Gift Ngoepe also went 1-for-4 (.167) with a double, a walk and a run scored.

High A: Bradenton had the day off.

Low A: Greensboro shutout West Virginia 3-0.

Clay Holmes goes five innings, gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits, walked two and struckout four in defeat (5.60 ERA). Josh Bell was 2-for-4 (.280) including a double. Max Moroff went 1-for-4 (.231). Stetson Allie was 0-for-3 (.340).

 

Pirates/Tigers Game Preview 5/27

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates will play their first road Interleague series of the season, as they will take on the Detroit Tigers in a two game series at Comerica Park. Game time is set for 1:08 on both ROOT Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pitching Matchup: Francisco Liriano (3-0, 1.00 ERA) vs Justin Verlander (5-4, 3.66 ERA)

Starting Lineups

Pirates: LF Starling Marte, 2B Neil Walker, CF Andrew McCutchen, DH Garrett Jones, C Russell Martin, 3B Pedro Alvarez, 1B Gaby Sanchez, RF Travis Snider, SS Clint Barmes

Tigers: 2B Omar Infante, RF Torii Hunter, 3B Miguel Cabrera, 1B Prince Fielder, DH Victor Martinez, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF Matt Tuiasosopo, C Brayan Pena, CF Avisail Garcia

Game Notes

Francisco Liriano has a career 6.18 ERA at Comerica Park.

Russell Martin is batting .417 (5-for-12) with a homer against Justin Verlander.

In three career starts against the Pirates, Justin Verlander has a 1.44 ERA.

Miguel Cabrera is 9-for-26 with a pair of home runs vs Francisco Liriano.

Victor Martinez is 11-for-24 with a homer against Liriano.

The Tigers currently have the best home record in the American League.

Pirates Make Several Roster Moves

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have announced several roster moves today. They have placed Jose Tabata on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain and have recalled  Josh Harrison from Indianapolis. Bryan Morris has been sent down to Indy, while Mike Zagurski has been called up and placed on the 40-man roster with Jeff Karstens being transferred to the 60-day DL. Harrison was batting .279 along with a .750 OPS in 35 games for the Indians, while Zagurski made 19 appearances with a 2.14 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and a 15.9 K/9.