The Pirates will welcome the Cincinnati Reds to PNC Park for a three game series starting tomorrow night.
The Reds have helped play spoiler and have helped the Pirates rise up in the standings, but now the Reds want a piece of us as they can finish atop the division.
The Reds are known to not be out of any game at any time, and they come back during many games. With last year’s MVP Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, the team has two power bats and it helps that they have a solid all around team. Let’s break down the series by game.
Monday Game 1: Dontrelle Willis 0-0 3.00 ERA vs James McDonald 5-4 4.42 ERA
This matchup will be interesting. The Pirates have had the Reds number all season and this game could continue that.
Both starters have a lot of question marks. For Willis it is simple, he has a very unortodox delivery and it can result in control problems. He can walk a lot of people and emotions often times can get the best of him. Considering he is just starting his Reds adventure, he may not go that long. McDonald has already pitched as many innings as last season, and he has done it not so well. He looks shaky, cannot pitch consistently and can’t locat that curveball consistently which seems to be his strikeout pitch. He gives up a ton of pitches, and he does not have a pitch that can result in double plays.
This game could be a pitcher’s duel or it could be a slugfest, it could go either way because of the inconsistencies with these pitchers. The Pirates will need to show some offensive potential this series to contend and this could be a great start.
Tuesday Game 2: Mike Leake 8-4 4.28 ERA vs Charlie Morton 7-5 3.80 ERA
Mike Leake has had quite a season of ups and downs. He was cited for taking $60 plus worth of goods at Macy’s and was even sent down earlier in the season. He did seem to have the Pirates number last season, his rookie year.
Morton has definitely improved over last season, but his “Electric Stuff” has been inconsistent. He has had a start skipped, and his pitch counts have lowered. I am not sure what to make of it, but perhaps the All-Star Break helped him take his mind off of baseball. He may be the pitching X-Factor for whether the team will be contenders come August 1.
I think this game will be a lower scoring one but perhaps a 4-3 decision sounds about right. I think the Pirates will run this game and use their aggression as their advantage.
Wednesday Game 3: Johnny Cueto 5-3 2.01 ERA vs Jeff Karstens 8-4 2.34 ERA
This has the potential to be a very quick game as both pitchers have been dominant.
Cueto has shown that he can own us Pirates. He can get a high pitch count on various occasions though and can give up the home runs. He loves when he sees the Pirates and considering how often the Pirates strikeout, why would you not be?
Karstens have quietly been going about his business putting zeros on the scoreboard. In his last outing, he pitched a complete game 83 pitch shutout. He has to be riding a high and he definitely does not need to worry about his confidence. We shall see if this will be a sixth consecutive win for the team.
Outlook: The Pirates have their fans excited, that’s for sure. With the Reds coming in, perhaps we will get an idea of a playoff atmosphere, although attendance will be down as it is a weekday series. I expect the Pirates to take two games in this series. I feel that they will handle Willis without much difficulty and Karstens will help guide the way. I think the Reds will win the second game on the strength of their bat. The Pirates could sweep this though, as closer Francisco Cordero has been known to blow saves. Aroldis Chapman could play an important role in this series, and I think he will impact at least one of these games.