Thursday, April 28, 2016

Pirates Come Home to Face Reds, Cubs, Then Big Road Trip

Well, they'll have to shoehorn in a make-up game in Colorado (they have two left coast trips left, in late June and mid August; both June 30th and August 18th are mutual off days) but the combination of winter mix falling from the gray skies and cold was right on time for the battered Bucs. Oh, the position players love the short bench, as everyone is involved and getting innings, but even with a crowded bullpen, the relief corps needs some down time (starters too, for that matter).

The pen has covered 41-1/3 IP during the nine game road trip. The relievers are picking up four innings per game, with an extra six thrown in thanks to extra innings, which came about because the pen couldn't hold late leads. It's also a given that Chase and Coors Fields make pitching a challenge. Still, the pitching at both ends has been pretty much a train wreck, so a day off and a return to the hurler-friendly confines of PNC are just what the doctor ordered. The relievers get to lick their wounds and the rotation all get an extra day's rest, as Clint opted to push everyone back rather than skip a turn.

Yes, a day off! (photo Dave Zulabowski/Associated Press)

Pretty big, if short, six-day homestand. The Pirates are coming off a nice 6-3 coast trip, but the Reds have proved to be a royal pain in the Bucco butt, and then the Cubs roll into town for the season's first head-to-head meeting. The first part of May is a bear; after the Cub set, it's off to St. Louis, Cincy and Chicago. The second part should be a chance to rack up some wins with a 10 game stretch at home against Atlanta, Arizona and Colorado before a fairly brutal June schedule.

So far, so good; the Bucs are three off the pace at 13-9, and the dink-and-double attack backed by a strong bench has worked like a charm. Now only if the pitching comes around. To cherry pick a couple of stats, this year's HR/game is 1.43 (0.66 in '15) while walks per game are 4.51 (2.74 in '15), and the resulting SIERA for 2016 is 4.31; it was 3.56 last year. A couple more strikes and keeping it in the yard look like the key to a turnaround.

  • Slated matchups v the Reds: Friday - Dan Straily vs Juan Nicasio,  Saturday - Alfredo Simon vs Frankie Liriano, and Sunday - Raisel Iglesias vs Jeff Locke. Gerrit Cole, Jon Niese and Juan Nicasio are in line for following the Cub series.
  • More good news from Indy: Jameson Taillon went seven innings today, giving up a run on five hits with two walks and seven K, using just 89 pitches.


JAL said...

Theydidnot dig a hole last April either, finished the month 12-10

Ron Ieraci said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Ieraci said...

JAL - of course you're right; I was thinking of 2014, when they only won 10 games. When I went back to check, even that wasn't too bad; SL had a slowish start too; the Pirates were only 3-1/2 behind them at the end of April. Thx, good lookin' out & I'll fix up the post.