Friday, April 15, 2011

Pirates vs. Reds Preview (Series Four)

Let me just say, what a thoroughly disappointing homestand by the Buccos. Every ounce of momentum they had has been rapidly flushed down the toilet. The Pirates now head back on the road to take on the defending Division Champions.

The Reds beat the Pirates 10 out of 16 times last year en route to their division championship.

The Pirates actually have a winning record on the road, so maybe getting out of PNC Park will help them regain some offense.

Reds probables are Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, Edinson Volquez, and Travis Wood.

Bronson Arroyo (34) RHP

Former All Star, and former Pirate Bronson Arroyo will take on the team that drafted him for the first time this season. Arroyo is having yet another fine season thus far, after what some call a bit of a resurgence last season. Fact of the matter is Arroyo is just a solid pitcher. Sure he won 17 games last season, but his ERA was better the year before and last season marked his third straight seasons with 15+ wins, so really Arroyo has never gone anywhere.

Arroyo pitched fantastic against the Buccos last season getting credit for two wins in three starts, and allowing just six runs over 20 innings.

He is no stranger when it comes to success against the Pirates, boasting a 3.01 lifetime ERA against the Bucs and a 6-4 record in twelve starts. Arroyo is averaging just over six innings per start against the Buccos, and just always seems to get the decision. His secondary numbers are pretty pedestrian against the Pirates, but they aren’t exactly great against any team.

Edinson Volquez (27) RHP

Volquez came to Cincy in the Josh Hamilton trade, and while he hasn’t turned into the mega-star Hamilton is, just how good Volquez has shown to be is often overlooked. In 2008, his first real season in the bigs, he compiled a 17-6 record with an impressive 3.21 ERA. He was an All Star this year and his name appeared on the Rookie of the Year ballot even though he was not eligible for this award.

Since then he has played very little. In 2009 Volquez only made nine starts before going on the 60 Day Disabled list and undergoing Tommy John Surgery.

In 2010 he didn’t make his first start until July 17 after being suspended 50 games for use of performance enhancing drugs. After this he was so bad that the Reds sent him to Single A to work out his issues. After 20 days in the minors he came back and pitched seven innings of shutout ball against, you guessed it, the Pittsburgh Pirates. This would be his only start of the season against the Buccos. It would also be his season high for Strikeouts in a game, ten.

Volquez seems to really baffle Pirates hitters. He has face the Buccos five times in his career and held Pirates to a paltry .202 average. In his 31 innings he has given up just eight runs, but has struck out an absurd 32 Pirates. He has utterly dominated the Pirates for his career, but interestingly enough he has only ever gotten the win against the Buccos once in his career, and that came at PNC Park. So I guess we have the fact that he has never gotten the W in Cincy against the Pirates going for us?

Mike Leake (23) RHP

Mike Leake is a pretty interesting pitcher. Leake was drafted in 2009 and never even pitched an inning of minor league ball. He ended up starting 22 games last, and coming out of the pen twice as a rookie. And he was pretty damn successful too. In fact his eight wins would have ranked second on the Pirates, and his ERA of 4.23 was better than every Pirates starter with 10+ starts besides James McDonald and Ross Ohlendorf.and his winning percentage of .667 was tops amongst Reds starters. That’s not to say he didn’t have his struggles. His 3.2 walks per nine was tied for second worst amongst starters, and he gave up quite a few hits, including 1.2 homers per nine.

Leake started out pretty well, allowing just two earned over 6.0 innings against the pathetic Astros. His second start was quite bad though. He only lasted 4.2 innings and gave up six earned runs tin a loss (no decision) to the Diamondbacks.

He had mixed results against the Pirates though. He failed to record a win in his three starts, but managed to get a loss, all while putting up a 1.86 ERA. What’s more odd is that his fantastic 1.86 ERA came with Pirates batters hitting him up at a .315 clip. Why the odd stats? Because he only gave up four earned runs against the Buccos. He also allowed 11 total runs. His SO/BB of 1.14 is extremely poor, and he gave up a very unimpressive 23 hits in his 19.3 innings.

Travis Wood (24) RHP

Travis Wood earned 17 starts last season for the Reds after spending six seasons in the minors. His minor league track record is pretty good, compiling a 40-31 record, with a 3.06 ERA. In the majors last season he compiled a 5-4 record while putting up a very solid ERA of 3.51. So far this year he has struggled. Although he is 1-1 he is sporting a healthy 5.25 ERA. Most of this stems from his last start in which he went five innings and gave up six runs to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

He has only faced the Buccos one time in his career, but it was a dandy. Wood threw up seven innings of shutout ball, giving up just two hits and a walk to the Pirates in August of last season at PNC Park.

The only two Buccos that have anything but a .000/.000/.000 against Wood are Walker (.333/.333/.333) and Ronny Cedeno (.000/.500/.000), so I will not be including him in the chart below.


vs. Arroyo

vs. Leake

vs. Volquez

vs. Reds

Pedro Alvarez





John Bowker





Ronny Cedeno





Matt Diaz





Ryan Doumit





Garrett Jones





Andrew McCutchen





Lyle Overbay





Steve Pearce





Josh Rodriguez





Chris Snyder





Jose Tabata





Neil Walker





The Pirates probable starters are Charlie Morton, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, and Kevin Corriea.

Charlie Morton (27), RHP

Morton is coming off another good start, a start in which he deserved the win. If you can get seven innings of two run ball from Morton on a regular basis you are going to win some games. Still even with that Morton is playing with fire this season, his SO/BB is an utterly pathetic .30. He has ten walks to just three strikeouts. I think he is still trying to get the feel for his new arm slot though because he has never even approached numbers that bad, even in his crazy bad season last year.

Charlie Morton actually faced the Reds three times last year, with terrible results. The Reds managed 21 hits and 13 runs (11 earned) in just 14.1 innings. Two of those starts came at Great American Ballpark, where his ERA actually increased, from 6.91 to 8.64. His two stats encompassed a scant 8.1 innings, and saw Morton give up 14 hits, and eight earned runs.

His career numbers don’t look much better either. Reds batters are hitting him up for a triple slash line of .326/.396/.450, and he has never gotten a win against the hated Reds. If you look at it from a Great American Ballpark standpoint it’s an almost laughable .404/.478/.579.

James McDonald (26) RHP

McDonald is coming off his second straight sub-par outing in a row, although this time he was able to go 6.2 innings. Really doesn’t matter though if he is giving up five runs in those innings. McDonald, like Morton has struggled with his control as well, although nowhere near as extremely. Still seven walks to seven strikeouts just isn’t going to get it done, especially when you add in the fact he is also giving up a hit an inning.

J-Mac has faced the Reds three times in his career, although never as a starter and never as a Pirate, and boasts a 1-0 record. It’s just four innings though so there isn’t a whole lot to take from it, although the win did come at Great American Ballpark.

Jeff Karstens (28) RHP

After the rain out against the Brewers Karstens spot was skipped by the Buccos, allowing them to pitch both Correia and Maholm on regular rest. Karstens will give it another shot on Sunday.

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 was lit up by the Reds last season during his four appearances (one start). He gave up a pathetic 23 hits in 13 innings on his way to an 0-1 record, and bloated 6.92 ERA.

His career numbers aren’t much bleaker. Reds are hitting Karstens at a .364 clip, with an OPS of .992. He has also never been able to pick up a single win to go with his four losses against the Reds.

Kevin Correia (30) RHP

Correia looked to be cruising against the Rockies, until ESPN put the no-hitter alert out in the fifth inning. Correia then proceeded to fall apart, giving up four earned runs over six innings and picking up his first loss as a Pirate. His ERA took a hit, jumping from 1.29 to 2.70, but it’s too early to judge anything from that standpoint. Correia has been plagued by the same things as the rest of the staff, too many walks in relation to strikeouts. He hasn’t been giving up the hits though, and really he isn’t walking too many batters, I’d just like to see him strikeout some more.

Correia did face the Reds last year once, a game at Great American Ballpark. He also was awarded the win after 5.2 innings of work, in which he gave up just two runs on three hits.

Oddly enough Correia has more wins against the Reds (6) than he does any other team. This is really odd considering this will be the first time he has been in the same division as the Reds, and even more so because he has a pretty bad 4.66 ERA in his 13 starts. Even more odd is the fact that four of his six wins came at Great American Ballpark, where he has pitched absolutely wretchedly. He has given up 28 hits in 26.2 innings and given up five homers there and rocks a massive 6.08 ERA.