Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pirates vs. Rockies Preview (Series 3)

Finally the Pirates have come back to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania! Time for the home opener after a six game road trip. The Pirates welcome the Colorado Rockies to beautiful PNC Park for a four game series. This time it’s personal though as former Bucs manager Jim Tracy will take on the guy he replaced, former Rockies manager, Clint Hurdle.

Who would have thought just a week ago that we would be gearing up for this series after going 4-2 on the road against division rivals? Who would have thought we would be just two, uncharacteristic, Evan Meek meltdowns from possibly being undefeated? And who would have thought Kevin Correia would be 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA?

The season series last year was won by the Bucs who ended up 4-3 against the Rockies. It also featured James McDonald’s memorable debut as a Pirates pitcher, in which he struck out eight Rockies over six shutout innings.

The Rockies probable pitchers are Esmil Rogers , Jorge De La Rosa, Greg Reynolds, and Jhoulys Chacin. The Rockies probable pitchers has changed substantially and probably for the better. First off Ubaldo Jimenez will be replaced by Greg Reynolds, and since Jhoulys Chacin was pushed back due to snow we will also miss Jason Hammel.

Esmil Rogers (25), RHP

Rogers is coming off an abysmal year where he spend 20 out of 28 games in the bullpen. He gave up a whopping 94 hits in just 72 innings. He is strikeout pitcher, almost one per 9 though and guys like that can get in a groove.

He actually did get a start last season against the Buccos and even worse picked up one of his two wins in that start. He even threw up a quality start, going six innings and giving up three runs on eight hits in his only career appearance against the Pirates, which came at PNC Park.

Jorge De La Rosa (30), LHP

Pirates fans will remember Jorge De La Rosa from this offseason. He was the Pirates number one Free Agent target. De La Rosa eventually took a three year deal from the Rockies worth close to ten million a year.

De La Rosa is coming off a pretty bad Spring, but as we have seen with, well all of our starting pitchers thus far (save Charlie “Electric Stuff” Morton), Spring Trainings really can’t be relied on to forecast what a pitcher is going to do. In his one start this season he picked up the win, but failed to go six innings. He did allow only three hits in his 5.1 innings outing against Arizona and struck out five. His control was very good in that game giving up only one walk which translated into a WHIP of just .750. He was in solid control when pulled in the sixth due to a blister. There is a chance he will move up to give Jimenez’s thumb a little more time to heal, so the order could change.

Last year he was able to face the Pirates twice, posting a respectable 3.65 ERA, with his only decision being a loss. He absolutely mowed down Pirates, a clear trend with last year’s team, striking out 13 batters in 12.1 innings, and allowing six runs (five earned) in his two games.

Average is how I’d describe De La Rosa’s career against the Pirates, and in general to be honest. He has faced the Pirates ten times, six of which were starts, and he has 4.06 ERA with 3-2 record lifetime. He has given up a lot of hits over his 37.2 innings (41) but has struck out even more (42). The good news is that, oddly, half of his appearances (5) and half his starts (3) have come at PNC Park, where he has struggled a bit. He has never won at PNC, and has given up three of his four career homers against the Buccos at PNC. He has also allowed 20 hits in just 17.1 innings at America’s Best Ballpark.

Greg Reynolds (25), RHP

Greg Reynolds will take the place of Ubaldo Jimenez, the Rockies ace. He has 13 starts in 14 appearances, all for the Rockies, and all in 2008. Since then he has spent time in AAA, A+, and AA. Reynolds was a rush job in 2008 and it has adversely effected his career.

He has never faced the Pirates, or pitched at PNC, therefore I left him out of the chart below.

Jhoulys Chacin (23), RHP

Chacin looks to improve upon his good 2010 season by staying in the rotation full time this season. Chacin came into camp a bit lighter than last season and that can only bode well for the somewhat portly pitcher. He was a bit wild this Spring, having walked 11 batters but overall he was too bad.

Chacin has never seen the Buccos, and obviously hasn’t seen PNC Park.


vs. Rogers

vs. De La Rosa

vs. Chacin

vs. Rockies

Pedro Alvarez





John Bowker





Ronny Cedeno





Matt Diaz





Ryan Doumit





Jason Jaramillo





Andrew McCutchen





Lyle Overbay





Steve Pearce





Josh Rodriguez





Chris Snyder





Jose Tabata





Neil Walker





The Pirates probable pitchers are Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, and James McDonald.

Paul Maholm (28), LHP

Maholm gets the Home Opener honors this year and looks to build off a very good start against the Cubs. Maholm pitched 6.2 shutout innings and looked to be comfortably in line for the Win until the bullpen blew the game. Maholm only allowed five hits and two walks in that game while striking out three. He also worked out of a few jams, inducing a few ground balls in key situations.

Maholm looks to bounce back from an abysmal season against the Rockies. A season which saw him make two starts for a grand total of 8.0 IP and 14 (!) earned runs. A series of games which saw him give up 18 hits and walk more guys than he struck out. Sadly this isn’t a case of a good start and a bad start, this was two terrible starts. Eight earned in one, and six earned in another.

That really hurts his career numbers against the Rockies so his career 7.11 ERA is really no surprise. When two of your eight career starts are that bad it really throws your career numbers into disarray. He has given up 21 runs in his 6 other starts which isn’t very good considering he averages about five innings over those starts. He does have pretty good (for him) SO/9 numbers and his 2.64 SO/BB is better than any full season he has ever posted, so he hasn’t been too bad.

Ross Ohlendorf (28), RHP

Ohlendorf continued his rough Spring with a very mediocre performance against the Cubs. Inconsistent would be what I’d call it. He was looking good for a while after a bit of trouble in the first but he seemed to be fighting himself all day. He didn’t take the team out of it, but did allow four runs in six innings, allowing twelve baserunners.

While Ohlendorf failed to get a decision in his two starts against the Rockies last year he pitched very well. One of those starts only lasted .2 innings when Ross Ohlendorf was hit in the head with a Troy Tulowitzki comebacker. His full start went well though. Six innings of one run ball including six K’s and just one walk. He has only faced the Rockies four times and his numbers are a bit different than his one game last year. This is probably in part to the fact that three of those games came at Coors Field. He is averaging a homer per game against the Rockies and has given up 22 hits in 17.2 innings.

Charlie Morton (27), RHP

Morton really had the Sinker working against the Cardinals and pounded them inside in a way Pirates fans haven’t seen in quite some time. He sawed off Albert Pujols and made him look foolish in three at bats. He also had Yadier Molina, who has a legendary eye, chasing pitches well inside, even putting one right on his hands that Molina didn’t even attempt to run out. Morton worked a solid six innings and gave up only one run. There is some cause for concern as he walked five batter and struck out just two, but it’s something to build on. He will need to work on his breaking pitches, which he used rarely, because he didn’t control them well and they seemed pretty flat regardless of where they ended up. Still it’s a very positive outing for someone who has struggled with confidence problems, and he will need to take this chance to build on it.

Morton has only faced the Rockies one time, a 2009 start at Coors Field in which he gave up two earned in five innings of work.

James McDonald (26), RHP

James McDonald is coming off a mediocre start, in which he did not pitch enough innings to qualify for a win (they lost anyway). His 4.2 innings saw spotty control which led to an extremely poor WHIP of 1.714

Everyone remembers McDonald’s debut, which came against the Rockies. His first start as a Pirate was also his first win, and a six inning beauty which saw him SO eight while walking just one and giving up four hits and zero runs.

McDonald has been solid between the Dodgers and Pirates against the Rockies. He has a record of 3-1, very good for six appearances, three of which were as a reliever. He has struggled with his control against the Rockies hurting his SO/BB, but he also strikes out about a batter an inning.


fearless said...

I just finished a painfully long comment, which yielded only an error message when I hit "publish". It essentially said: This will be a good test for both the Rockies and the Pirates... Rockies look like a contender to win it all and Pirates off to their best start in years.

Tulowitski + Carlos Gonzalez are probably the two best players all-around on any team in baseball right now. I think it's pretty safe to say they're each the best defensive player in MLB at their respective positions. Tulo has made 3 or 4 plays already this year that would be career highlights for most SS. If you haven't seen the one he made yesterday vs. Jose Uribe, find a highlight. It featured a backhand on the full run to his right and a mid-air, off-balance, mammoth throw from near the foul line which nipped Uribe by a gnat's eyelash. Ridiculous.

DeLaRosa and Chacin look super sharp... DLR can be an ace when he's on.

Don't be surprised if Franklin Morales comes in in a crucial situation in he middle innings. He looks as close to his unbelievable form of 2007 as he could be. He's back to throwing three plus pitches with command. He'll throw the 95+ fastball on the corners to start, knee buckling curve for a strike, and a nasty, unhittable slider to finish guys off. If you're lucky enough to make contact with the slider, he'll go back to the heater away.

The Rox are a fantastic defensive team will a beefed-up bullpen. Their soft spots are the 'potential' of Dexter Fowler & Ian Stewart. Fowler, in particular, must learn to be satisfied with being a slap hitter and not be so infatuated with his hitting power. When he is selective at the plate and puts the ball in play... he's much better and the Rox are better. Stewart has shown sign this Spring that he's not going to be an albatross who keeps you hanging on with the occasional display of unrivaled power. He's been nursing a small injury... we'll see.

Rich said...

The Rockies have definitely been on fire, and it'll be a great test. There isn't a better middle infielder (all around) in the game than Tulowitzki and this is the type of test this rotation needs.

I like the Pirates chances against both Reynolds and Rogers. I also question how much the blister on De La Rosa's finger will effect him.

If you take a snapshot of the Rockies team right now the trouble is in the rotation. Reynolds is not a highly touted prospect or anything, and he has struggled mightily against lefties. I would not be surprised to see Pedro break out against him.

I don't know think the Pirates sweep the Rockies, but it seems like almost a perfect storm of weirdness in that rotation.

Chacin's rest got screwed up by that storm, although he pitched a gem, DLR has questions about a finger on his throwing hand, and personally I'd much rather face Esmil Rogers then Jason Hammel. Add in the fact that they Rockies replaced an All Star with a possible AAAA/Bullpen guy and if the Pirates pitchers show like they have I like the Pirates chances.

Not to say the Rockies don't catch a bit of a break. Ohlendorf was by far our worst pitcher, and he will be going up against DLR. If he pitches like he did last outing, and DLR's finger is good, the Pirates will have a very tough time even keeping it close.

McDonald also struggled a bit and he is going up against Chacin.

fearless said...

Yeah, well when Jimenez and a resurgent Cook are on the DL, the rotation is going to be the problem lol.

Reynolds is straight out of the box of chocolates... you never know what you're going to get.