So now the Pirates are without Marte & Kang, both victims of their own knucklehead choices, and that about takes care of the middle of the order. We expect Adam Frazier should become the third outfielder for the time being (perhaps in platoon with J-Hay) with Cutch shifted back to center (although all that rearranging will be done on the fly; we're sure this was a bolt from the blue for Clint and Neal after the game last night). At Indy, Jose Osuna got the call to the show and is in St. Louis for the game tonight; no roster moves needed as Starling joined JHK on the reserved list.
And to think we were worried about RISP...
|Sadly, not the only nosedive Starling has taken.|
Tonight: The Bucs and Cards get it on at 8:15 from Busch Stadium and will be the MLB Network game (Root will show the Pens game if you're a sports surfer). They'll also be on 93.7 The Fan. Jose Osuna arrived in the clubhouse around 4:30 and the doors immediately shut behind him for a team meeting complete with a farewell speech by Starling. Welcome to the show, kid.
Lineup: Adam Frazier RF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Josh Bell 1B, Jordy Mercer SS & Chad Kuhl P. Starling's absence sure makes the two-hole problematic again.
|Chad is on the bump (photo Joe Guzzy/Pirates)|
Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (1-0, 2.38) bounced back from a drama-filled opener to smooth sailing in his last outing against Boston as he rides the usual rookie roller coaster. This will be a test for him and his progress. Kuhl worked seven innings against St. Louis last year in two relief outings and was rudely treated with a 6.43 ERA and sky-high WHIP of 2.286. The MLBN coverage will be small beans to Kuhl - remember, his first MLB start was on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" against Clayton Kershaw and that worked out just fine. Cool Chad will face Mike Leake (1-1, 0.60) who not only is smokin' hot to start the year (one run surrendered in 15 IP, with a nine-inning streak of goose eggs) but has always been a problem for Pittsburgh. He's 9-5/3.36 in 28 lifetime starts against the Pirates, the most he has against any MLB club, and has generally proven to be a thorn in the side of the Bucs. Pittsburgh may have solved him; he was 1-2/5.83 in four 2016 starts against them, so let's hope those numbers hold up.
- Cutch has hit safely in eight straight games.
- Everything's a streak - the Cards snapped a three-game losing streak and the Pirates three-game winning streak last night.
- Starting to come around: in their last five games, a complete rotation turn, Pirates starters have posted a 2.51 ERA while working into the seventh inning three times. For this season, the Bucco starters rank fifth in the NL with a 3.48 ERA.
|Josh has been hit in the knee three times (and once in the thigh) in two days and just keeps on tickin' (photo/Getty Images)|
- J-Hay has been plunked six times this month. Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs has the gruesome details on vid. The April club record is seven, held by Jason Kendall, with the MLB high-water mark set at 10.
- Altoona LHP Brandon Waddell was placed on the seven-day minor-league DL with a left forearm strain. He's expected to skip one start and be back in action.
- Former Bucco LHP JA Happ got a scare in his last outing for Toronto, leaving with elbow pain. He appears to have avoided the worst, tho - it was diagnosed as inflammation, and earned him a trip to the 10-day DL rather than to a surgeon.