Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pirates vs. Diamondbacks (Series Twenty One)

It’s very rare when the Pirates set a positive record, but that’s just what they did. Setting the single event attendance record at PNC Park during the Saturday, June 4, 2011 game against the Phillies. Sure it was mostly due to Phillies fans, but this series has been great baseball for anyone watching at home but especially there. If the fans get used to it look out.

That said I’m getting pretty tired of hearing two out of three ain’t bad. Quite frankly it ain’t good. This team need to close out these series’ with a sweep every once in a while. They aren’t going to make up enough ground winning six of nine, or nine of twelve. They need to go on a streak, win six, seven, or eight games straight if they are going to break out of the ignominy that has been Pirates baseball since 1992.

The Pirates just played one first place team, and now they will play a second place team. The Diamondbacks have been surprising this season, their 33-27 record good for second place in the NL West, just .5 games behind the World Series Champion Giants for the lead. Not only will they be playing another decent team, they will be playing a team they had a winning record against last season. The Pirates were somehow 4-2 last season against the D’Backs despite the fact that the Diamondbacks outscored the Pirates 39-30. That differential exists because the Pirates lost by 8 runs one game, and nine runs in the other. Those games were in the first month of the season, the Pirates closed out the series in September at PNC park where they swept the D’backs to take the series.

The Diamondbacks probable pitchers are Daniel Hudson, Zach Duke, and Josh Collmenter.

Daniel Hudson (24) RHP

Daniel Hudson is off to a pretty okay season this year after being fairly dominant last season. He is 6-5 in 12 starts with an ERA of 4.22, good but not great. Hudson is getting hit around a bit, something unusual for a guy who gave up just 6.9 H/9 in his minor league career. He is currently giving up 9.6 H/9 allowing 84 hits in just 79.0 innings. He has eight quality starts in twelve games but despite pitching 6.0 and 7.0 innings respectively in his last two outing hasn’t had one since May 22. Still the guy has gone six plus innings in eight straight starts now, five of which have been seven plus.

His one career start against the Buccos came last season at PNC Park. He pitched a very fine game, allowing just one run, on a solo homer to Andrew McCutchen, in 6.1 innings of work. The righty gave up just three hits, walking two, while striking out six batters. He wouldn’t get a decision in that game but the Pirates would beat the Diamondbacks in what would turn out to be a sweep for the good guys.

Zach Duke (28) RHP

Well, well, well Zach Duke returns to the Burgh. Hopefully the Pirates can actually win with him pitching at PNC Park now that he plays for the other team. Maybe Duke gets too much ire from TiGO? Maybe from me specifically? His babyish ways grew old with me, and the fact that he did not stick up for his teammates was basically it for me. Still he did do some (very little) good for the Pirates and that can’t be discounted. Duke was just thoroughly mediocre to bad during his time here, maybe that’s not his fault, but I don’t dislike him for his performance, I dislike him for his attitude. I hope the Pirates put up nine runs on him.

So far this season Duke has made just two starts after breaking his pitching hand. He is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA. It’s too early to tell which Duke you are getting so far. Are you getting the real Zach Duke who has never had an ERA under 4 or are you getting the Zach Duke whose one good half season propelled him to an All Star game?

In his first outing he gave up just three hits over seven shutout innings, walking one while striking out four in the win. He also managed to hit a three run homer, the first homer of his career.

His second outing was more of his pace. He lasted five innings and gave up four runs on ten hits. He actually struck out six though, walking none so those numbers aren’t too terrible. They are just knocking around his mid to high 80’s garbage at a high rate.

Duke has obviously never faced the Pirates but he has played one or 81 games at PNC Park in his lifetime. He has a 31-31 record with a 4.26 ERA with two complete games, and one complete game shutout. He has a career WHIP of 1.430, his SO/9 of 4.9 is pretty poor as is his 598 hits allowed in 503.1 IP and his opponent’s slash line is a healthy .301/.342/.449. Hopefully he can help the Buccos out at PNC Park, this time as a Diamondback.

Josh Collmenter (25) RHP

Collmenter is enjoying a great rookie year. He started the year in the bullpen, picking up one win in seven relief appearances. He then moved to the rotation where he has a 3-1 record in five starts. He has given up just four earned runs as a starter, and four of his five starts were quality ones. The only non-quality start he had was a 4.1 inning outing in which he gave up two solo shots and allowed five hits. Not completely terrible numbers, but definitely not enough to get it done. He has had a good season though, considering those two runs account for a full third of the runs he has given up over 43.1 innings.

Thats right Collmenter is 4-1 with a 1.25 ERA thus far. He has a WHIP of just .669, is allowing just 5.0 H/9, is walking just 1.0 batters per nine, while having a pretty low SO/9 of 5.4. Still if he is only walking one batter per nine that means his SO/BB is a very good 5.20.

Collmenter has obviously never faced the Pirates or pitched at PNC park, so I will not be including him in the chart below.


vs. Hudson

vs. Duke

vs. D’backs

Josh Harrison




Xavier Paul




Ronny Cedeno




Matt Diaz




Dusty Brown




Garrett Jones




Andrew McCutchen




Lyle Overbay




Brandon Wood




Chris Snyder




Jose Tabata




Neil Walker




Pedro Ciriaco




The Pirates probable pitchers are Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, and Jeff Karstens.

Kevin Correia (30) RHP

Correia just keeps it going. Picking up his eighth win of the season, good enough for the league lead. He notched his third straight quality start on June 1st, lasting six innings and giving up two earned on six hits. He struck out four and walked two, lowering his ERA to 3.40 in the win against the Mets.

Correia will be pitching against a really familiar team. Last season Correia threw in five starts, posting a 2-3 record with a pretty sad ERA of 7.82. The 32 hits in 25.1 innings is bad, but the 22 earned runs and 7 (!) homers is even worse. The only real positive for Correia last season was his 11.7 SO/9, but the Diamondbacks were historically free swinging. Though he had just one quality start against the Diamondbacks the big damage was done very late in the season. He had back to back starts against Arizona on the 26th and 31st of August 2010 and to say they went bad would be an understatement. He lasted just 3.1 and 4.1 innings and gave up nine and six runs, respectively. In fact if you take out those 15 runs that leaves a total of seven runs over three games which is actually pretty respectable.

Those two games were part of a horrible ten game stretch at the end of the season for Correia. Correia had a 5.79 ERA over that span in which he was 4-4 in eight starts. He gave up 49 hits over 46.2 innings during that span and ended up getting moved to the pen for the last two games.

Correia has faced the D’backs 23 times in his career, third most after the Rockies (30) and Dodgers (25). Of those 23 appearances he has 14 starts and a record of 4-8. Despite his bad numbers last year, and negative record he has been pretty okay. A 4.80 ERA is definitely not good, but considering five of those starts combined for the aforementioned 7.82 ERA that isn’t too too terrible. He has one complete game, but has given up 101 hits in 93.2 innings, including 15 homers (most amongst any team). While he has allowed a lot of hits, he has an 8.7 SO/9 and a really solid 3.03 SO/BB which has kept his WHIP at a pretty reasonable 1.399.

Paul Maholm (28) LHP

It just seems right that Maholm would be squaring off against Zach Duke doesn’t it? Maholm is a lot of what Zach Duke isn’t, mostly he is ultra competitive and a good team guy. He just doesn’t strike me as a chump who wouldn’t plunk a guy when a guy deserves it.

Maholm had a really rough outing against the Mets, actually deserving the loss he wasn’t charged with. Baseball gods? He looked to be on his way to another win after the Pirates took an early 7-0 lead but it wasn’t to be. Maholm allowed seven runs (six earned) on eight hits to give the lead away to the Mets. He lasted just 5.2 innings and threw 91 pitches, which is the exact same amount he threw in the game before against the Cubs, a complete game shutout.

Still his ERA is just 3.66, very good after giving up such a large amount of runs in one game and his secondary numbers are still quite good. His 1.218 WHIP is his best in any full season as is his 7.8 H/9, and his .6 HR/9 is tied with his career best. His 3.2 BB/9 is in line with his career average of 3.1 and his 5.9 SO/9 is slightly higher than his career average of 5.6.

Maholm did not face the Diamondbacks last season and only has four career starts against them. He is 0-2 with an ERA of 5.16 over 22.2 innings. He has allowed a bunch of hits (30) but, surprisingly, never a homer. Shockingly he has only ten Ks against the Diamondbacks, a team that has K’d a bunch for year, and even worse he has twelve free passes. Horrible numbers. His 1.853 WHIP is worst in regards to National League opponents and third worst amongst all teams.

Jeff Karstens (28) RHP

I don’t know how Jeff Karstens is 3-4 with an ERA of 3.30 but I’ll take it. Last year he was pitching in Indy, it looked like he was gonna be a minor leaguer for good, but then injuries brought him back and he once again fought until he stuck. Now he is a legitimate reason for the success of this team, and I no longer worry about his starts. In fact he has been so good the Pirates are going to have a tough time deciding what to do when Ross Ohlendorf returns.

Karstens last outing vs. the Phillies? A seven inning one run gem. Karstens gave up just four hits to the Phillies, a team most expected to come in and dominate the Pirates, but a team that would do no such thing. Karstens did not get a decision, but he sure deserved one. Still he gave the Pirates every opportunity to win and they did. Say what you want about his stuff, his past, even his future, but right now Jeff Karstens is pitching winning baseball and the Bucs haven’t seen much like this in years.

Karstens has some history with the Diamondbacks. After the trade which brought him to the Burgh Karstens flirted with history, throwing a near no hitter against the D’backs and Randy Johnson on August 6, 2008. Karstens would go on to get the complete game shutout, allowing just two hits and one walk in the best start of his career.

That would be his only career start up until this point against the Snakes, he has four other appearances but they are all in relief and cover 6.1 innings, 9 hits, five runs, a homer, and four walks. Pretty crappy numbers actually. Maybe the resurgent Karstens can give us that no hitter he was so close to getting last time.

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