Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pirates vs. Brewers (Series Four)

Well that was disappointing. After seeing our bullpen win us a game, and then lose us two, the Pirates will lick their wounds and take on the ultra-hated Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers come to PNC Park on a two game winning streak after losing their first four games. They also come to PNC looking for their first road win of the season, being swept during their only road series by the Reds.

Last year the Pirates had a hell of a time against the Poo-Crew going 5-13 against the Brewers. Even worse than their pathetic record against the Brewers was their abhorrent -45 run differential. One of the lowest points of the Pirates season was the 20-0 nothing embarrassment at the hands of the Brewers on April 22, 2010, the second of two straights shutout in that three game series. A close second though came twelve days later when the Brewers again punished the Pirates, demolishing the hapless Buccos 17-3. That game would mark the Pirates fourth straight loss to the Brewers, and the last game in a seven game losing streak for the Pirates.

The Pirates would exact some revenge in July, scoring eleven and fifteen runs in back to back games.

Again the Pirates find themselves faced with something they struggled mightily against last season. A division opponent. These games are crucial in the maturation process of this ball club. If they can’t start pulling themselves out of divisional hell then it’s going to take some doing to completely right this ship.

The Brewers probable starters are Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, and Chris Narveson.

Shaun Marcum (29), RHP

Marcum was brought over to the Brewers from the Blue Jays for INF prospect Brett Lawrie at this year’s Winter Meetings. He was just one of the pieces the Brewers added to retool their pitching staff but has had a bit of trouble thus far this year. He has a 1-1 record for the struggling Brewers but managed a quality start in his second outing.

That’s not to say he is a slouch though. He had 13 wins as Toronto’s ace last season and has a respectable 3.85 career ERA. He has struggled a bit with his control thus far, walking seven batters in just 10.2 innings, but he has also struck out eleven batters as well.

Marcum has never faced the Pirates, and obviously has never pitched at PNC Park. Accordingly since he has not faced the Pirates he will not be included in the chart below.

Randy Wolf (34), LHP

The second left-handed starter the Pirates face this year will be veteran Randy Wolf. Wolf has struggled big time this season, lasting just 10.0 innings in his two starts, both of which were losses. Wolf has given up a Charlie Mortonesque 22 baserunners in his ten innings, 19 of which reached on hits. He has also been hurt pretty badly by the long ball allowing four homers in his two starts. His strikeout numbers are actually very good up until this point and he isn’t really walking many batter’s though so it could turn around pretty quickly.

Over the course of his career Wolf has seen the Pirates a ton, 17 times. Almost half the time (8) he has come away with the win. The good news is he seems to be worse at PNC. His career ERA is 6.19 at PNC, compared to 4.35 overall against the Buccos. Oddly enough though of his eight wins against the good guys, four of them have come at PNC Park despite his lackluster ERA.

Chris Narveson (29), LHP

Chris Narveson has had an odd route to the majors. The Brewers are his fifth team. Narveson was drafted by the Cardinals in 2000, had elbow surgery in 2002, then went through a whirlwind of trades, first to Colorado, then to Boston before being released and re-claimed by the Cardinals. Then after becoming a free agent in 2007 he signed with the hated Brewers and spent the 2008 and 2009 season in Triple A.

Narveson has spent a total of ten seasons in the minors, logging a whopping 1,010.1 innings.

Narveson has pitched well this season, not yet allowing a run in two games, while striking out an outstanding 14 batters in 13 innings. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff at all, but he has decent command of the four pitches he can throw.

Narveson was 2-0 against the Buccos in his four appearances last season (and for his career), which included three starts. He gave up a lot of hits, but managed to strikeout 16 Pirates batter’s. He did pick up a win in one of his two appearances at PNC Park, but again his ERA overall was not great, and he did give up nine hits in seven innings.


vs. Wolf

vs. Narveson

vs. Brewers

Pedro Alvarez




John Bowker




Ronny Cedeno




Matt Diaz




Ryan Doumit




Jason Jaramillo




Garrett Jones




Andrew McCutchen




Lyle Overbay




Steve Pearce




Josh Rodriguez




Chris Snyder




Jose Tabata




Neil Walker




The Pirates probable pitchers are Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, and Jeff Karstens.

Kevin Correia (30), RHP

Not a whole lot to say about Kevin Correia’s season thus far besides great. He has been everything the Pirates could have asked for. He has been the unquestioned ace of this team, pitching 13.0 innings in his two starts, and getting the win in both.

Correia looks to continue his success against a team who knocked him around pretty good last year. It was only one start, but it was a bad one. In 4.1 innings Correia allowed twelve baserunners (seven hits, four walks, one intentional walk) and five runs.

Save that pathetic start and Correia has actually pitched pretty well against the Brewers. He has notched thirteen appearances (six starts) and has a 2-3 record with a high 4.93 ERA. If you take away the five run game he has given up 18 ER in 37.2 innings, which drops his ERA down to 4.35, pretty average. His problems seem to be walks. The Brewers are only hitting .253 against him and with a BABIP of .288 they haven’t really been too unlucky. His SO/BB is a pretty paltry 1.33 though, so the key will be to not put guys on for free. With the power at the top of the Brewers lineup every mistake can be deadly.

Paul Maholm (28), LHP

Paul Maholm’s first start was good enough, and probably should have been a win. His second start was good enough to net a loss. Paul Maholm looked pretty bad against the Colorado, having trouble keeping the ball on the ground and giving up five runs (three earned) on eight hits. Maholm will need to get his sinker working, because his fastball is rarely reaching the low 90’s these days.

And what a team to try to gain his composure. The hated Brewers. Maholm actually made his big league debut against Milwaukee in 2005, pitching an eight inning gem which saw him give up zero earned on four hits. He also notched five strikeouts in the Pirates 6-0 victory.

Maholm actually wasn’t terribly bad against the Brew Crew last year either. While he only had one decision in three starts (a loss), he did go seven innings in each of the three games (giving up four, four, and two earned runs respectively). Still he gave up a homer a game, a big problem for Maholm last year that may have just carried over to this one, and allowed 27 baserunners in those 21.0 innings.

The Brewers are second only to the Reds in appearances from Maholm, and he has been pretty average. Of teams he has faced 10+ times his 4.53 ERA is actually worst, and only the Reds have more homers against Maholm then the Brewers, while no one has scored more runs against him.

Jeff Karstens (28), RHP

With Ross Ohlendorf headed to the disabled list Jeff Karstens will get the start against the Brewers. Karstens started 19 games last season after beginning in Triple A Indianapolis and fought to a 3-10 record with a 4.92 ERA. Karstens has appeared in three games thus far, earning a win in one, and has yet to give up a run in 5.2 innings.

Karstens did not notch a win against the Brewers, despite his three starts last season. In fact he ended up charged with two losses. His problem last year against the Brewers was two-fold, walks and home runs. Out of 27 total walks allowed by Karstens last year ten of them were to Brewers and out of twenty one homers five of them came against the Brew Crew.

Karstens is probably most well know for his 2009 games against the Brewers though. 2009 saw Jeff Karstens, probably intentionally, hit Ryan Braun after a long homer. Braun continued to crowd the plate and Karstens plunked him. Well everyone knows how big of a crybaby Braun is, in particular, and the Brewers are, in general so you figured something would happen.

Well a few months later Karstens came up to bat, and nothing happened. Nope the situation dictated that hitting Karstens might cost the Brewers a run so they did nothing to avenge Cryin’ Ryan’s bruise. Well that is until Karstens’ second time through. After Karstens took exception to being hit Jason Kendall took it upon himself to interject and walk Karstens down the first baseline. Kendall didn’t want any altercation to happen, this is evidenced by the fact that he was too much of a pussy to take his mask off. Nope just kept it right on his face so big, bad Jeff Karstens didn’t reconstruct it.

And that closes the ballad of Dave Kerwin.

Karstens has never gotten a win against the Brewers as a starter or as a reliever. In his nine appearance (six starts), he is 0-3 with a respectable 4.08 ERA. As was the case last year walks are a big problem for Karstens against the Brewers. He has actually done a pretty nice job limiting their hits, which allows his WHIP to be pretty good, but all the walks really dilute his SO/BB. His walks, combined with mediocre strikeout numbers couple to create a paltry SO/BB of 1.44.

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