Monday, May 2, 2011

Pirates vs. Padres Preview (Series Ten)

Another day another road series win for the Road Warriors. The Pirates won their fourth road series of the young season, tying last year’s mark on the first day of May. That win closes the book on the season series against the Rockies. The Pirates did have a losing record due to the 1-3 showing at home earlier this season, but they did improve to a 3-4 record against the Rockies, so it wasn’t a drubbing. That was the inverse of last year’s series against the Rockies in which the Pirates actually had a rare winning record of 4-3.

The Pirates will now get into a much easier, on paper, schedule then the one they had in April. The Pirates will now play six straight games against last place teams. If the Pirates can sweep take five out of six it puts them in a really good position to be able to split the four game series against the Dodgers at home. That is a tall order, because the Pirates always seem to disappoint when they get chances like this.

The Pirates head to San Diego for a series against the Padres. The most memorable part of last season’s series was probably a Pirates fan absolutely berating a Padres fan live on FSN (ROOT SPORTS). Too bad Lacee Collins wasn’t around then she would have gotten the scoop for sure. But alas the raging Pirates fan has faded into obscurity, and is now just another piece of Pirates lore.

Other than that amazing fan, the Pirates were pounded by the Padres going 0-6 for the series with a -21 run differential. The Pirates can make some headway here, at least compared to next season just by winning a freaking game against the last place Padres. Maybe they can even make up for the swing in the Rockies series by taking advantage of their light schedule in these first two series’.

The Padres probable pitchers are Aaron Harang, Mat Latos, and Clayton Richard.

Aaron Harang (32) RHP

The first taste of San Diego is familiar face Aaron Harang. Harang ended up in his hometown of San Diego after an injury plagued year, and a good Reds rotation relegated him to bullpen duty. Harang then signed a one year deal with the Padres this off-season, ending his eight years in Cincinnati.

The Padres look to have gotten a pretty good deal. He has decisions in each of his five starts, and four of them are wins and his 3.90 ERA is on pace to be the best he has had since 2007. He has really cut down on hits, and his homer numbers are a bit lower than his career. This is possibly due to the pitchers heaven he is not calling home but he has yet to give up a homer on the road so it’s hard to say for sure. His string of four straight quality starts, and wins, was broken his last time out after getting absolutely dominated by the Braves. He still went exactly six innings, making it five in a row with exactly six, but gave up his first homer(s) of the season when the Braves knocked three out of Petco. He really struggled the whole game though, giving up seven hits, eight runs, and three walks, while only striking out two.

He also has needed a lot of pitches just to get through six innings. The least amount of pitches he has thrown in a six inning game this season is 86. He has thrown 94+, and 103 once, in his other four games.

Harang only faced the Pirates once last year and shockingly picked up the win, just one of his career best 13 wins against the Pirates. Harang wasn’t terribly impressive in his game last season but with this team sometimes you just don’t have to be. He gave up eight hits, five runs (four earned), a homer, and two walks in his winning effort, good for an ERA of 5.68.

Don’t let that one start fool you though, while he doesn’t dominate the Pirates in regards to ERA his career 4.08 is pretty average but it’s hard to argue with thirteen wins in twenty-two starts. His control has been great against the Bucs, with a 5.61 SO/BB that is far and away his highest against any team he has faced more than twice. There isn’t even another team he has faced more than twice that is in the 4.00 range, so he really has had his way with the Bucs in terms of Strikeouts and Walks.

Matt Latos (23) RHP

Latos’ first season as a starter was also one of the better seasons by a rookie ever. He was one of three Padres pitchers to get 14 wins, and one of four to get 10+. He led the rotation in ERA (2.92), was one of two Padres pitchers with complete game shutouts, allowed the least amount of hits, earned runs, homers (tied with Richard), and walks. Latos had the lowest WHIP (1.083), lowest H/9 (7.3), most strikeouts (189), lowest BB/9 (2.4), highest SO/9 (9.2), and best SO/BB (3.78). Overall just an unreal season, and unquestionably the best performance on the staff.

So has he followed it up with a string of wins? Nope. He is in the midst of his sophomore slump by the look of things. He has yet to notch a win this season going 0-4 in his four starts. Even worse he has now lost nine straight dating back to last year. Latos has just one quality start this year, in his first game of the season. His last outing lasted just five innings and saw him give up six runs, though just five of them were earned. The long ball has really hurt him this year. After giving up just 16 in 184.2 innings last year he has already given up five in 21.2 innings this season. While his strikeouts numbers have risen, his walk numbers have risen more, so his SO/BB has fallen from 3.78 to 2.50, still a good number, but nowhere near as good as last year.

His career against the Pirates consists of one game. It was a win last season at PNC Park in which Latos went six innings allowing two runs on seven hits. Two of those hits were homers. He struck out seven while walking just two.

Clayton Richard (27) LHP

Richard was possibly the second best pitcher in the Padres rotation last season behind Latos. He also finished with 14 wins on the season and had an ERA of 3.75. Despite the results he gave up a lot of hits (9.2/9) and didn’t strike out an extreme number of guys.

So far this year he has six starts, in which he is 1-2 with an ERA of 3.82. He has gotten very little run support from his team in all of his games except the first on (they scored eleven in his first start and only win) and his fourth start (a no decision). His other four games have his team scoring 2,2,0, and 2 runs respectively. That said Richard has only given up more than three ones once, a six run, 5.2 inning effort on April 17th.

Richard did not face the Pirates last season but is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two starts against the Pirates. He has 12 innings against the Pirates allowing 1 unearned run on eight hits. A traditionally average strikeout guy has 13 strikeouts in those twelve innings, his highest rate per nine against any team with more than one start.


vs. Harang

vs. Latos

vs. Richard

vs. Padres

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 James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, And Kevin Correia.

James McDonald (26) RHP

Finally McDonald threw his game this last time out. JMac was able to pitch six innings of shutout ball against the World Champion Giants on his way to his first win of the season. He allowed just four hits, although his secondary numbers weren’t very impressive, walking four and striking out only three. That will need to improve but it was nice to see him pitch well, and get results when he wasn’t exactly hitting his spots. That last start was enough to drop his ERA back into the single digits, going from 10.12 to a still horrid 7.66. It also ended his streak of allowing a homer at three games, and his multi-homer games at two. It was also the first game in five starts in which he did not allow a run.

He got himself two appearances (one start) last year against the Padres, giving up four runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings last year en route to an 0-1 record. Both of those appearances were at Petco.

He has been even worse lifetime against the Padres, pitching to a 7.71 ERA in five appearances (two starts). He has only logged 9.1 innings against the Padres which would be really bad if he just had his two starts, but to add in three relief appearances it is downright terrible. His SO/BB is a scant 1.33 and he is giving up nearly a run an inning.

Jeff Karstens (28) RHP

Karstens picked up his first loss of the season last time out after pitching a not so bad game. Technically he gets credit for a quality start due to only giving up two earned, but the Giants scored three unearned runs against him due to fielding deficiencies. Any time you can get nearly seven innings out of Karstens and have him allow just two earned is a good thing. He has earned the fifth starter’s job for now and to be honest has been pretty damn good once he started getting regular rest in the rotation. He is a scrappy pitcher, but he won’t ever go long in games. Still, if he keeps it up, you have to question what Ohlendorf’s role will be upon his return. Maybe his body can’t handle to workload of a starter?

Regardless this might be a pretty decent start for Karstens. Petco is a cavern, and he is a flyball pitcher, so the ballpark might allow some of his deficiencies to be covered up.

Karstens was charged with two losses last year against the Padres even though, overall, his numbers are pretty solid. He pitched six innings both games, giving up four earned (two at PNC, two at Petco), ten hits (three at Petco), and striking out eight (three at Petco).

That was actually Karstens only work at Petco, one quality start. He has three other relief appearances against the Padres but no more starts. Though he has 2.1 more innings he has given up five more earned runs, including a homer, so that puts his numbers against the Padres is a much worse light.

Kevin Correia (30) RHP

Correia is continuing his coming out party, dropping his ERA below 3.00 again after another strong start against the Colorado Rockies, who were the hottest team in baseball. Correia picked up his fourth win of the season, going 6.2 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, and one walk to four strikeouts. Correia has been our ace this year, although Morton is a close second, and Neil Huntington is looking might smart for signing him to a two year deal right now.

Correia faces his old team for the first time since leaving via Free Agency, but not the first time in his career. Correia started off as a San Francisco Giant and while he spent two seasons with the Padres he has appeared in 19 games against them, but only started five. His career numbers aren’t too great against the Padres, though he is 2-1, he is giving up more than a hit an inning and his SO/BB is just 1.30. He should be nice and familiar with Petco, and with the way he is pitching maybe he goes in with a chip on his shoulder?

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