Saturday, July 20, 2013

AJ v Mat Latos

AJ Burnett (4-6, 3.06) takes on Mat Latos (8-3, 3.53) this afternoon. This is the first time in AJ's career that he's notched only four wins 16 starts deep into a season, more testimony to Pirate hitting than his pitching, as he's allowed three runs or less in 15 of his 16 outings. Burnett has one no decision against Cincy this season and is 5-5 lifetime against them. Latos has come to earth after his 6-0 start to the year. He's 0-1 in three starts against the Pirates so far this campaign, but 4-1 overall with a 2.57 ERA v Pittsburgh.

The game starts at 4:05 and will be aired nationally on Fox Sports and locally broadcast by 93.7 The Fan.

Pirate lineup: Starling Marte LF, Jose Tabata RF, Andrew McCutchen CF, pedro Alvarez 3B, Russell martin C, Garrett Jones 1B, Jordy Mercer 2B, Clint Barmes SS and AJ Burnett P.

Reds lineup: Shin-Soo Choo CF, Chris Heisey LF, Joey Votto 1B, Brandon Phillips 2B, Jay Bruce RF, Jack Hannahan 3B, Zack Cozart SS, Devin Mesoraco C and Mat Latos P.

  • Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote that "...the Pirates have interest in Giants outfielder Hunter Pence, and probably several other teams would, too. But unless something changes, he's staying in San Francisco."
  • Post All-Star is crunch time for the Bucs. The Pirates play 35 of their remaining 68 games against NL Central opponents, with 22 matches against the Reds and Cards. Pittsburgh has posted a 25-16 record against its own division this year, with a 10-10 mark on the road. The Pirates are looking to post their first winning season against the Central since the division was formed in 1994. They're 6-5 against the Reds.
  • Jordy Mercer has a five game hitting streak.
  • This series features the top two NL home run hitters since the beginning of last season. Pedro Alvarez has hit a league-leading 54 homers followed by Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce (53) in 2012-13.
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs posted his list of the Top Ten players by trade value, saying "...they’re the kinds of players that we’ll be telling our grandkids about." #4 is Cutch. "There isn’t a single (thing) that that McCutchen is better at than anyone else in Major League Baseball. But he’s so good across the board that the overall package is a franchise player. He’s great, and there’s room for more."
  • JP Breen, in a Fangraphs fantasy league article, isn't sold on Jeff Locke yet, but writes "I’ve actually come around to the fact that he may be the perfect pitcher for the environment in which he plays. He’s generating a ton of ground balls, and the Pirates are converting the most ground balls into outs (in MLB). Combine that with the fact that Locke gets to play in the spacious PNC Park - which should keep his home-run rate suppressed - he’s essentially in the perfect environment to find success on the mound."
  • Neil Walker began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indy last night and went 0-for-3 while starting at second base.
  • The Red Sox signed reliever Jose Contreras, recently released from Indy.


Anonymous said...

Playoff atmosphere last night at GABP. That was considered a must-win for the REDS. Bucs need to punch back today and I like AJ's chances.

Mercer killed us last night. Also Marte's K in the 7th hurt. He k'd on ball 4. That is the one flaw in his otherwise great game.

While I cant argue with Cutch being #4 on the top ten players list, I must say, Marte is better and I predict he will put up better lifetime seasonal and lifetime stats than Cutch. No disrespect to Cutch but with first choice of pirates positional players in a draft, I take Marte.

Cincy Bucco

Ron Ieraci said...

David - I really think the team is choking its bats to death; all they do with runners on is bounce out to the bat side. They need an approach - quit taking first pitch meatballs, go the other way, get the ball in the air..ya know, like they teach in Colt baseball.

I'm still thinking Mercer needs some more at bats; he is doing a better job of laying off the down-and-away, so now they're busting him inside. His swing is a little long and could use a bit of loft.

It'll be the same cat-and-mouse Starling went through last summer. Marte is a special player; watching him and Cutch for the next few years will be a pleasure.

WilliamJPellas said...

Agreed entirely re: Marte vs. Cutch. I have always thought that Marte had even more raw ability than McCutchen, which is saying something! Imagine the Pirates' outfield if Polanco works out (and/or is not traded for a veteran right fielder). Easily the best in baseball.

Re: Mercer, I like him well enough as a multiposition utility player---which is clearly what the front office was preparing him to be while he was in the minors---but I don't think he is a legitimate starting major league shortstop. As Ron says, Mercer's swing is too long and his defense, while competent at second and third as well as short, is not in the same league as a guy like Clint Barmes. Barmes can't hit a lick, of course, so Mercer gets the nod because Barmes just adds too much dead weight to the lineup. But going forward the Bucs will need a replacement at short, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Agree with your points - need to loosen the guys up a bit - how?

I think Hurdle should have pulled AJ before Votto. AJ was gassed at that point and we needed a hold. Bad break on Mercer's double and Cutch's stumble. Nice day in Cincy - lets go bucs!

David - Cincy Bucco

Anonymous said...

In all the trade talk speculation nobody is suggesting an upgrade at short, which I think you would agree, is of primary importance. Lets see the FO pull off a deal for a quality SS in the field and at the plate. Not sure who is available but if we get Walker back for the whole second half and keep Barmes as a defensive replacement - that could be the ticket. I would stick with Jones. Of course they should slide Pedro to 1st and be looking for a 3B - next season maybe.
David - Cincy Bucco

Ron Ieraci said...

Guys - SS is a tough spot to fill; that's why I'm willing to give Mercer his 300+ AB, tho it may well be that he's a utility guy. The reason they're not digging for an upgrade is because there are no real upgrades on the market, as far as I know.

The market for starters consists of rentals Jimmy Rollins/Alexei Ramirez and pups Jurickson Profar and Jose Iglesias. Remember, Pete Kozma and Zack Cozart are starters for the two teams we're dogfightin' with.