Today, the Reds (12-12, 2nd place) head to Pittsburgh (11-14, 3rd place) for the first half of a six game road trip. It’s the first time the Reds have faced the Pirates this year, and they’ll be looking for vengeance after performing poorly (5-10) against the Pennsylvania-based club last season.
It’s Really All About Next Year
This year, the Pirates added several players who would have been decent acquisitions if this were 2009, but it isn’t. Looking at them, I can’t help but think of some of those miserable mid-2000s Reds teams. A.J. Burnett! He was good one time! Let’s get him! Casey McGehee! That guy’s a winner! Erik Bedard! He’s still got something in the tank!
Basically, the Pirates are waiting for the kids to grow up and the roster is filled with placeholders and Andrew McCutchen.
- Friday: Kevin Correia (1-1, 2.42) vs. Johnny Cueto (3-0, 1.39)
- Saturday: James McDonald (1-1, 2.97) vs. Mike Leake (0-3, 6.35)
- Sunday: Charlie Morton (1-2, 4.22) vs. Mat Latos (1-2, 5.97)
Correia has been around for a long time and has been steadfastly not very good. He has been super-duper lucky to open 2012 and there’s no reason to think the Reds shouldn’t get to him, especially as the A-team should start today after Dusty decided to play everyone (who isn’t very good) yesterday.
McDonald is a bit different, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up a decent start. He’s been inconsistent in his career and the Dodgers didn’t think enough of him to hold on to him, but he’s had some good stretches. He’s also 28 and a decent candidate for an inexplicably good year.
Morton has been solid at times, but last year, he had a terrible K/BB ratio and I have to believe that 3.83 ERA was a mirage. He is ground ball pitcher and won’t give up a ton of long balls, but if the Reds can hold back and make him throw pitches, a game with him as the starter could get out of hand really fast.
Starting Position Players and Likely Lineup
- Jose Tabata (R) – RF
- Alex Presley (L) – LF
- Andrew McCutchen (R) – CF
- Garrett Jones (L) – 1B
- Neil Walker (R) – 2B
- Pedro Alvarez (L) – 3B
- Clint Barmes (R) – SS
- Rod Barajas (R) – C
See what I mean about it being McCutchen and a bunch of other guys? Walker and Tabata are both reasonably solid, but no one else on this team is very good. Going position by position, I would call the Reds better at every spot except CF (though we could argue about 3rd).
McCutchen merits his own paragraph, though. He’s really, really good. He can run. He can hit. He can field. He’s the classic example of a player who does lots of things well but nothing exceptionally. Nothing in his numbers jumps out at you, but taken together, they make for an impressive and imposing player.
Except for maybe Tony Watson, there just isn’t anyone here to be excited about. Sure, I could quote you some pretty numbers as the Pirates bullpen has been good so far, but it’s so early, especially for bullpen stats, that those numbers would only mislead you. This is a pen filled with a bunch of journeyman hurlers who probably won’t embarrass the Pirates, but they aren’t going to scare Reds hitters as they jog to the mound, either.
As I mentioned above, the Reds played poorly against the Pirates last year. Don’t expect that to happen again. This club is simply not very good. Sure, they have a collection of players who are capable of getting hot in stretches, but so does every club. There is just about nothing on this Pirates club that should scare a team that is supposed to contend like the Reds. This should be the series where they Reds finally get back over .500, hopefully to stay.