Friday, April 29, 2011

Pirates vs. Rockies Preview (Series Nine)

After a .500 series at home which saw a scrub look like Cy Young, the bats go back to sleep, and the bullpen blow yet another magical start the Pirates are back on the road, this time to meet a team who was able to take three out of four from the Buccos at PNC Park earlier in the season.

A series win would be great from the road warriors. They need to prove that they can hang. They are slowly falling away from the .500 mark, kind of like a used car nickel and diming you to death.

The Rockies probable pitchers are Jason Hammel, Jhoulys Chacin, and Ubaldo Jimenez.

Jason Hammel (28), RHP

Hammel is off to a really good start. He only has four starts under his belt but he has won two games (2-1) and is currently sporting a pretty good 3.80 ERA. He has gone 6+ innings three games in a row now all of them quality starts, including a 6.2 inning one run performance against a Marlins team that really beat up on the Pirates his last time out.

Hammel actually didn’t have a great year last year for all the hype I’ve heard about him. His ERA was much closer to 5.00 than 4.00, 4.50 even. He gave up well over a hit an innings (10.2), and gave up close to a homer a game.

His lone appearance against the Pirates was a win, in which he had an exact quality start. Besides going six and giving up three runs he only struck out two, while walking the same. That was his lone career win (came at PNC) against the Pirates, his numbers overall are bad. He has three appearances (two starts) and only has 13.2 innings total. He has given up nine earned runs and twelve hits, including two homers (both of which came at PNC).

Jhoulys Chacin (23) RHP

Chacin is off to a great start this season. You may remember him from the first Pirates/ Rockies series. He went six innings giving up four earned on seven hits. Pretty unimpressive overall but he did end up getting the win against James McDonald. That was the second in what is three out of four starts with 6.0 or more innings, and the second win out of his three thus far. On April 15th Chacin pitched a complete game shutout against the Chicago Cubs, allowing just six hits, while striking out a season high seven batters. He followed that up with arguably his worst start of the season, a five inning loss to the Marlins. He got hit around pretty good by the Marlins allowing four runs on seven hits, and giving up two long balls. Chacin has thrown 95+ pitches in each of his four starts.

Chacin’s only other start against the Pirates came in 2009 where he lasted just 2.2 innings, giving up four earned on one hit. He managed to somehow walk six batters though. Pretty weird to think he gave up four earned runs on one hit with no homers allowed.

Ubaldo Jimenez (27), RHP

Jimenez was actually supposed to face the Pirates in the first series as well, but he was placed on the DL with a cuticle injury just before the start of the series. He has made three starts on the season and he has yet to notch a quality start. His two starts since coming off the disabled list were both only five innings although his most recent start saw him allow just one hit. He gave up three ones and walked four in that game, getting 7 k’s (a season high) to go along with his season high walk total. Over the course of his two games he has a 0-1 record with a 6.30 ERA. Even though he has only gone six innings at the most he has thrown 92+ pitches in every one of those starts.

Jimenez is coming off a fantastic year. He finished third in Cy Young voting, and made his first All Star appearance. Most people were waiting for him to have that really great year and he didn’t disappoint. After two consecutive seasons in which he won 12+ games, Jimenez improved again and won 19. Jimenez carried this rotation last year, posting a 2.88 ERA over the course of his team leading 33 starts. He also led the Rockies in IP, shutouts (2), complete games (4), HR against (tied at 10), Strike Outs (214), and WHIP (1.155). He also led the team in walks and HBP. Word is that a thumb injury has sapped his velocity, so much so that he had to throw a successful bullpen to even be able to go.

His first start this season was disappointing to say the least. He did last six innings, but he gave up two homers (equal to 20% homers allowed all last season), and five earned on seven hits. More surprising was the fact that he struck out only one.

In 2010, he faced the Pirates once. This start was typical Jimenez domination. Over the course of seven innings he struck out six while only allowing four hits and one run. He struck out a hair under 25% of Pirates batters last season.

The Pirates may be just what the doctor ordered for Jimenez as he has dominated them in five career starts. His 1.54 ERA is the best of his career against teams he has faced five + times, and his .971 WHIP is his lowest against any team period. In 35 innings he has struck out 27 Pirates while walking just 12.


vs. Hammel

vs. Chacin

vs. Jimenez

vs. Rockies

Pedro Alvarez





Xavier Paul





Ronny Cedeno





Matt Diaz





Ryan Doumit





Garrett Jones





Andrew McCutchen





Lyle Overbay





Steve Pearce





Brandon Wood





Chris Snyder





Jose Tabata





Neil Walker





The Pirates probable pitchers are Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, and Charlie Morton.

Kevin Correia (30) RHP

Correia picked up the loss in his last outing, a pretty terrible one following his complete game. The Nats scattered 11 hits against Correia in just 4.2 innings, including two homers on their way to a 6-3 victory over the home team. Correia was charged with five earned. He now has been hit with two losses in his last three games. Still he has been pretty solid, but a nice effort would really reassure a lot of the lingering doubts, and questions of a fluky start.

Correia didn’t start against the Rockies, but he did pitch one innings of relief to give the bullpen some rest after that fourteen inning marathon game. He pitched one full inning, putting zeros up in every category.

He was bad against the Rockies last year, getting three starts. His three starts were his second most against any team last year and his 7.88 ERA was the highest amongst teams he pitched more than five innings against. His one start in Colorado saw him get hit up pretty good, seven hits over five innings, two of which were homers, and five runs plus a walk. He did have eight strikeouts though most of any road park except the strikeout kings in Arizona.

Correia is very familiar with the Rockies. He has more appearances (29) and second most starts (11) against the Rockies than against any other team. His 14 starts at Coors are his most at any visiting park. His numbers are pedestrian in general both against the Rockies (2-5, 4.94) and at Coors (1-3, 4.29). He is averaging about a homer every seven innings at Coors, but guys seem to give up a lot of homers up there.

Paul Maholm (28) LHP

Maholm is having a very inconsistent year. Sometimes he looks great, the sinker is working, and he is efficiently getting guys out. Other times guys are just killing his high 80’s junk and making him work as hard has you will see.

Maholm got the ball in the home opener against the Rockies and was not impressive. He allowed three earned, five total on six hits (including a homer) over just 5.2 innings. He was able to manage just one strikeout in the loss. Since then Maholm has pitched two great games. One was a seven inning loss in which he should have gotten the win, giving up just two runs and striking out six batters. Then he finally got his first win of the season in his fifth start, yet again going seven innings and giving up just two runs on four hits. This time he struck out eight batters. Sadly in between those two starts there was a putrid 3.2 inning effort in which Maholm couldn’t get anyone out. The Marlins knocked the ball around for seven hits and six runs.

Maholm has been bad historically against the Rockies. Somehow giving up 76 hits in 50 innings, and posting a 1-7 record and a 6.84 ERA in nine starts. He is also somehow worse at Coors field. His 7.53 ERA is the highest of any road venue where he has more than two starts and his 1-5 record leaves a lot to be desired. Although I guess it is positive that his lone win against the Rockies came on the road? His problem at Coors is the longball. He has given up five of his seven homers to the Rockies at Coors, not an unusual problem.

Charlie Morton (27) RHP

It’s still so hard to say Charlie Morton is for real isn’t it? Morton finally had his first rough outing two starts back against the Marlins, going just 5 innings and giving up six runs although striking out six. Everyone wanted to see how he would deal with the adversity, if he would let that get in his head, and if that was the beginning of the end. Well Mr. Electric Stuff came back, took that adversity, kicked it in the stomach and gave it a Stone Cold Stunner that even the Rock wasn’t talented enough to sell. He came back against the World Series Champions and went six solid innings, giving up just one run on four hits and striking out six for the second straight game. The bullpen blew this one again for him. And by again I mean the below writeup.

Morton’s first game against the Rockies this year was just great. Although his secondary numbers left a lot to be desired he went seven strong innings allowing just three runs (two earned) on four hits. Morton put his team in the position to win the game. Then the bullpen blew it. The bullpen has been doing this a bit, taking great starts and ruining them. The biggest enemy of the staff this year has been the bats and the bullpen. Who would have thought that going in?

Anyway Morton has only faced the Rockies twice now, not picking up a decision yet. He has a 3.00 ERA and is averaging six innings a start. His secondary numbers suck, but with the small sample size that can partially be attributed to his successful outing this year against the Rox. His only other start came in Colorado, where he pitched five innings of five hit ball, allowing just two runs and notching four k’s to two walks

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