Friday, May 13, 2011

Pirates vs. Brewers (Series Thirteen)

The Pirates ended their homestand last night with a 3-3 record. I guess .500 is okay, and last night’s game was rained out so who knows what would have happened, but it just seems like this team needed more. Everyone really wanted to see them either sweep the Astros or win the series against the Dodgers. Neither of those happened and the Pirates fell below .500 at home, not a great way to get asses in the seats.

I truly hate the Milwaukee Brewers. HATE THEM. Fact of the matter is they seem to own the Pirates right now. They dominated the Buccos last season, taking 13 out of 18 games from them. This year they seem to have gotten off to the same start. The only thing that saved the Bucs dropping three games to the Brewers might just have been the rain. The Brewers outscored the Pirates 10-1 in their two victories at PNC Park, shutting the Bucs out 6-0 and then beating them 4-1.

The Pirates come into this game with a pretty good road record though, sitting at 11-8 on the road, not bad for a team that won a grand total of 17 road games last season.

The Brewers probable pitchers are Yovani Gallardo, Chris Narveson, and Zack Greinke.

Yovani Gallardo (25) RHP

Yovani Gallardo gets the ball in the first game against the Pirates, after his great season last year which saw him make his first All-Star game, and bring home his first silver slugger. One of my most vivid memories of Gallardo was a complete game by Ian Snell, in which Gallardo also dueled until the end. The winning run in that game? A solo shot by Yovani Gallardo.

Any way, Gallardo hasn’t followed up his great season with another one. Gallardo is 3-2 in his eight starts, but he is rocking a massive 5.11 ERA. He has been giving up more hits this season, 9.9 per nine compared to his career average of 8.2, and hasn’t been striking guys out nearly as much, down to 6.6 per nine compared to his career average of 9.1. Gallardo’s first two starts were good, one six innings of two run ball followed by a complete game shutout in which he allowed just two hits. He really fell apart after that though not even registering a quality start in his next five straight starts. Over that span he posted an ERA of 8.89 while allowing a slash line of .389/.442/.602. If his last start is any indication though he just may have figured things out. Gallardo went eight innings against the Cardinals allowing just two hits and zero runs in the Brewers 4-0 victory.

Gallardo absolutely murdered the Pirates last year. In three starts he didn’t even allow an earned run (he did allow two unearned) on his way to a perfect 3-0 record against the Pirates. Gallardo struck out 19 batters in his 17 innings last season, and gave up just 13 hits against the hapless Buccos.

That just was a continuation of his dominance against the Pirates though. Gallardo has lost, surprisingly, two games against the Pirates, but he has won six. He has ten starts in eleven games, and has logged 62.2 innings against the Pirates. In those 62.2 innings he has given up just 50 hits and 15 earned runs. Even more impressive is the fact that he has struck out 71 Pirates for an average of 10.2 per nine innings. Calling him a Pirate killer probably isn’t an exaggeration. If the Pirates want to show they are for real they not only need to beat the Brewers in their stadium, they need to prove they can get to Gallardo.

Chris Narveson (29) LHP

Due to the rain-out in Pittsburgh Narveson was unable to make his scheduled start against the Buccos in the last series in Pittsburgh.

Narveson hasn’t been very good this season. His record is 1-3 and his ERA is 4.38. Not terrible for him (it is good enough for his second best season), but not great by league standards. So far he has given up his usual hit per inning and has kept his BB numbers pretty consistent. Oddly enough his SO numbers are better than his average of 7.9, coming it at 8.5. His numbers are just a hair better than last years, and it shows in his ERA. Narveson had two very good starts to begin his season, not allowing a run in either (6.0 IP and 7.0 IP respectively). In the five games since his ERA has steadily climbed until his last game in which it finally lowered a bit. His good numbers are inflated a bit because of those two starts. Since then he has an 0-3 record, with an ERA of 6.58. Opponents are hitting him for a .301/.351/.456 line, and he has given up three homers in those five games.

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 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 (21 hits in 19.0 innings), but managed to strikeout 16 Pirates batters while giving up nine runs.

The Pirates haven’t been all that good against LHP, batting just .218/.291/.321, but they are surprisingly 6-3 when facing a left handed starter.

Zack Greinke (27) RHP

Zack Greinke was the key piece the Brewers added to get over the hump and try and win one before Prince Fielder takes his jello filled body to another, more respectable team. The Brewers gave up a lot for Greinke, parting with Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Odorizzi, and Jeremy Jeffress for Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt, and cash. Greinke, as you know, is a former Cy Young winner and a one time All Star. He is also well known for his psychological issues, which actually forced him to the 60 Day DL in 2006. Greinke suffers from both depression and social anxiety disorder. Another thing he is known for? Being a quitter. Earlier this year it was revealed that he knowingly gave up on his team and he played the bad guy role to get moved out of town.

Something he isn’t really know for is mediocrity. Surprisingly for such a hyped player he has had a pretty mediocre career outside of one season. His 2009, Cy Young season was obviously spectacular, but other than his 2.16 ERA that year his lowest a 3.47 the previous year, and for his career he has an ERA 3.83. He followed up his CY campaign with a pretty ho hum ten win season in 2010, a year which saw him fall right back in line with his career numbers.

His 2010 season was much more in line with what Greinke has been:





































Now I’m not trying to say that maybe, just maybe Zack Greinke is overrated...... but Zack Greinke just might be a tad overrated, no?

Greinke has made just two starts so far this season, grabbing a win and a loss. He started the season on the disabled list with a fractured rib, sustained in an important game of pickup basketball. Greinke’s first start was a clunker, and he lasted only four innings, giving up five runs (four earned). He notched a quality start his next time out, giving up two earned over six on just five hits, while striking out nine.

Greinke spent his first seven seasons with the Kansas City Royals in the American League and because of this has very limited action against the Pirates. His only career start came on June 28th, 2009 at PNC Park. Greinke would pick up the win, going 6.1 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out just three.


vs. Gallardo

vs. Narveson

vs. Greinke

vs. Brewers

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 starters are James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, and Kevin Correia.

James McDonald (26) RHP

James Zell McDonald didn’t get a decision his last time out, but boy did he deserve one. McDonald cruised through six shutout innings, giving up just three his while striking out a season high eight batters. McDonald was able to lower his ERA for the third straight game, bringing it within the range of close to respectability. Daniel McCutchen got credit for the win after Ryan Doumit’s dramatic three run homer in the eighth gave the Bucs the lead.

McDonald got bombed his only appearance against the Brewers last season. A 6.1 IP start which saw him give up six runs on seven hits, although he did strike out seven at Miller Park.

Last season’s start was his only start against the Brewers, although he does have four relief appearances totaling six innings. He did not give up a run in any of those appearances, but did give up five hits and only struck out two batters.

Jeff Karstens (28) RHP

Karstens was actually supposed to pitch against the Brewers in the first series at PNC Park this year but, due to the rain, did not get his chance against this putrid organization.

Karstens has been good enough in his role this year. He has now notched five starts in eight appearances and he is still sporting a good 3.62 ERA. Karstens didn’t get a decision his last time out, although the Pirates would win that game 4-1. He went 5.2 innings which is around what we expect from him at this point, limiting the Padres to just one run on seven hits. Karstens only k’d two, while walking four so it wasn’t a great outing, but he got the job done and gave his team ample opportunity to win the game.

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 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.

Kevin Correia (30) RHP

Correia lost a chance to attain the Major League lead in wins with his loss to the Dodgers in his last outing. It looked like Correia was going to pitch a complete game at one point but then he just completely fell apart. He allowed five runs (four earned) in one inning, in what would turn out to be a complete blowout loss for the Pirates. Correia gave up ten hits, and has really struggled to find his groove at home. Correia has yet to notch a win at PNC Park, and has an ERA of 6.50 at home this season. Guys are hitting him for a .347/.367/.547 line at home.

Thankfully this game is on the road.

Correia has been downright filthy on the road thus far, getting a win in each of his five starts, and holding batters to a .190/.239/.262, Mario Mendoza line. He is pitching over 6 innings on average on the road, and has a 1.56 ERA to match his great numbers.

The Brewers got to Correia in the first series, chasing him after six innings. They scored all six runs in the shutout against Correia, though only four of them were earned. He also walked (2) more than he struck out (1). Overall a pretty poor outing the first time around.

Correia’s numbers at Miller Park are not very encouraging. He is 1-2 in nine appearances (three starts) with a 4.97 ERA. He has given up 28 hits in his 25.1 innings, and has fourteen walks compared to just 18 strikeouts. Limiting base-runners will be key for Correia against a team that has a good bit of power.

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