Monday, June 3, 2013

AJ Opens Against The Braves & Kris Medlen; Presley Down & Other Moves

AJ Burnett (3-5, 2.72) takes the hill against Kris Medlen (1-6, 3.48) at Atlanta tonight. Burnett has been a steady as she goes workhorse for the Bucs, even without any run support. AJ's gone six innings or deeper in seven straight games and nine of the last ten, and that kind of inning eating is just what the Bucco's valiant but beleaguered bullpen needs. A caveat: Burnett is 5-11 with a 3.83 ERA lifetime against the Bravos.

Medlen left his last outing in the second after taking a liner off the calf. His walks are up and K's down, but he's been solid if a bit unlucky in the win column. He's started three times against the Bucs in his career with a line of 2-1/3.04 versus them. The game starts at 7:10 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

The Braves have virtually the same record as the Pirates and a 6-1/2 game lead in the NL East. They've taken their last five series, just winning 2-of-3 from the Nats, and are another big brick in the wall after the Tigers and Reds. The Bucs get an off day Thursday to catch their breath.

Pirate lineup: Starling Marte CF, Neil Walker 2B, Garrett Jones RF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Travis Snider LF, Russell Martin C, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Clint Barmes SS and AJ Burnett P.

No Cutch on a day when the Bucs don't have any spare outfielders, having just sent Presley down. It's certainly not to sneak Gaby's bat in - he's hitting .180 v RHP. We hopin' Cutch is OK; usually he'd give him a blow at the end of a series with a scheduled off day behind it, which would be Thursday-Friday for this series. Maybe it's another of Clint's computer match-ups.

Braves lineup: Andrelton Simmons SS,. Jason Heyward RF, Justin Upton LF, Freddie Freeman 1B, Brian McCann C, Chris Johnson 3B, Dan Uggla 2B, B.J. Upton CF and Kris Medlen P.

It's the same lineup Pittsburgh saw in the first match up with Atlanta, configured a bit differently and bolstered by the return of McCann.
RHPs Jared Hughes and Ryan Reid joined the bullpen. Jeanmar Gomez was put on the 15-day DL and Alex Presley was returned to Indy. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Reid, the Bucs removed RHP Phil Irwin from the minor league DL list, recalled him to Pittsburgh, and placed him on the 60-day DL.

The moves leave the Pirates with 13 pitchers and a 9-man bullpen, and one man short on the bench (now Gaby, Jordy, The Fort and Brandon Inge). They also don't have a starter yet for Gomez's turn in the rotation, but that doesn't matter until Friday and they have a couple of ways to deal with that, either by recalling Charlie Morton or skipping Gomez's spot once or twice; they have a couple of off-days coming up.
  • For what it's worth: ump Bob Davidson warned both benches after each team beaned a batter in yesterday's opening frame. Did it stop the plunkings? Nah, three more guys got hit. The rule already says that if an ump thinks a beaning is intentional that he should toss the pitcher. So quit with the warnings; at best, all they do is give the initiator a free batter to hit.
  • Charlie Morton's line yesterday for Indy: 4-2/3 IP, two runs on three hits with four walks and four K, tossing 86 pitches. Doesn't seem like he's exactly ready for prime time yet.

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