Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pirates vs. Nationals (Series Fourteen)

Anybody remember that time the Pirates were one game over .500 in May? It was a more innocent time, a fun time to be a Pirates fan, but just as quickly as the Euphoria came it appears to have subsided. The Pirates went into Milwaukee, and laid their typical egg. Thus far they are 0-5 against their arch-nemesis, and it doesn’t look like things are about to change any time soon. The bats have basically been silent, and the pitching is returning to the mean. Correia has struggled his last two outings, and Resop looks more like the guy that was DFA’d last season. If the Pirates have any chance of righting the ship it needs to start immediately. This isn’t the type of team that is going to go on long winning streaks, and really is more likely to go on a nine game losing streak.

The schedule is much lighter this month than last, if they aren’t having success this month they are probably looking at another top five draft pick.

The Pirates head to Washington, to once again do battle with the Nationals. The Nationals mustn’t be expecting any sort of turnout because they are doing Buck Night on Monday AND Two Dollar Tuesday, so if you are a Bucco fan in the DC area this would be a perfect opportunity to see the Pirates cheap.

The Pirates were able to take the series against the Nationals at PNC Park, one of just two home series wins this season. The two wins the Pirates got against the Nationals thus far is already an improvement over the Nationals from last season, a team which the Pirates inexplicably were 1-5 against. The Pirates do have one more series left against the Nationals, but if they win these two games they can’t finish below .500 against them, a marked improvement.

The Nationals probable pitchers are John Lannan and Jordan Zimmerman.

John Lannan (26) LHP

Lannan will try the Buccos again. His first outing did not go good at PNC Park earlier in the year, picking up the loss in the Pirates 4-2 victory. Lannan gave up all four runs on just five hits over 5.2 innings.

The lefty picked up his only career win in two starts against the Buccos last year. He posted a 3.86 ERA overall against the Bucs, but his ERA at PNC Park was an outstanding 1.29. Out of 11.2 innings pitched against the Pirates last season seven of them came in his five hit, seven strikeout performance at PNC. The only run he allowed was a solo homer. His other start at home was pretty bad. It lasted just 4.2 innings and saw him give up four runs on ten hits.

For his career he is 1-4 in seven starts, and his ERA is 4.91. He does seems to strikeout the Bucs at a bit higher clip, but that is to be expected.

Jordan Zimmermannn (24) RHP

Jordan Zimmermann will get the ball in his first career start against the Pirates in the second, and last game of this series.. Zimmermann is off to a pretty good, if average, start after spending the majority of last season in the minors, after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2009. In addition to spelling his last name with two n’s, he was ranked the Nationals best prospect heading into the 2009 season. Zimmerman’s career numbers have been very consistent, although the sample size is very small. So far this year he has given up a hit an inning, and is walking 2.1 per nine innings.

His strikeout numbers aren’t mind blowing, just 6.6 per nine this year, but make no mistake he can strike guys out. His last time out he struck out eleven batters in 6.1 innings, beating his personal best of nine from last season. He currently is riding a streak of three quality starts in a row, and has given up just one homer over his last five games (and two overall!).

Zimmerman has only faced Matt Diaz (.667/.750/2.000), Lyle Overbay (.000/.667/.000), and Xavier Paul (.000/.000/.000).


vs. Lannan

vs. Nationals

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 Paul Maholm and Charlie Morton.

Paul Maholm (28) LHP

Paul Maholm has been good. There I said it, commence the meltdown. I’m not a huge Maholm cheerleader, in fact I’ve been pretty rough on Maholm. I’m still not totally buying this “resurgence” but it’s hard to argue with the results. His 1-5 record doesn’t tell the story because the Pirates have consistently let him down and wasted his good starts. Three of his last four starts were quality starts, and the Pirates won just one of them. In Maholm’s eight starts the Pirates have scored a total of twelve runs. That’s not just twelve runs while Maholm is in the game, that is twelve total runs. That is disgraceful. It’s pathetic. The strength of this team was supposed to be the bats, and Maholm has been one of the biggest losers because of the sick bats this team has boasted for the overwhelming majority of the season.

Paul Maholm’s only win of the season came against the Washington Nationals. Not only was that his first win of the season, but it featured a whopping four runs scored by the Buccos, a full 33% of the total runs scored for Maholm all season. It was also the first time Maholm has beaten the Nationals.

Maholm has just two starts at Nationals Park over the course of his career and is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA. Maholm’s career is basically the tale of two starts though.

On May 20, 2009 Maholm had a pretty good outing at Nationals Park, giving up just one earned run over six innings on just four hits. He also struck out seven while walking three in the no decision. The Pirates would win that game 2-1 (gee no run support, a trend?).

The second start was on May 3rd 2008 and Maholm got crushed. He lasted just five innings, throwing a whopping 102 pitches. He allowed ten hits, seven runs (all earned), and three walks, while striking out just two batters. The Pirates almost won this game, losing to the Nationals 9-8.

Charlie Morton (27) RHP

Morton’s last start ended up being rained out and will not count at all. But the time before that was another beauty. Morton picked up his fourth win of the season against the Astros, going 7.2 innings and giving up just one run on seven hits. He also was able to strike out five while walking just one, which is a big victory considering how backwards his SO/BB numbers have been.

Morton didn’t face the Nationals in the last series but did get tuned up by them last year in his one start. He lasted just 3.2 innings, giving up six runs (two earned) on eight hits. His only other career start against the Nationals was on August 3, 2009 at PNC Park. He lasted six innings that time out, but gave up four runs on six hits, including a homer. He also picked up the loss, making him 0-2 lifetime against the Nats.

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