So, the last time I wrote a Reds vs. Pirates preview, the Reds had crawled back to .500 (12-12) and the Pirates were just a bit behind (11-14). Things are a bit different now. The Reds have been fantastic lately and at 27-20 are in first place by a game and a half. Surprisingly, the Pirates are in third and, at 23-24, are trying to be respectable.
The Cranky Pirate
Recently, I wrote an article about the state of the NL Central over at The Hardball Times. In general, everyone seemed to agree with my assessments. The exception was Pirates fans. They all seem convinced that this is a pretty good team. The record says it might be. But don’t worry, it isn’t. The pitching has actually been decent, but the offense has a way of making everyone look like Greg Maddux.
- Monday: James McDonald (3-2, 2.51) vs. Bronson Arroyo (2-2, 3.22)
- Tuesday: Charlie Morton (2-5, 4.27) vs. Homer Bailey (3-3, 4.19)
- Wednesday: A.J. Burnett (3-2, 4.19) vs. Johnny Cueto (5-2, 2.53)
James McDonald is really having a heck of a year so far. His walks are down and his Ks are up. He’s going to allow more homers than he has, but his numbers are mostly for real so far. He’s reached the point where I think you assume you’ll need a good start from the Arroyo if the Reds are going to win that first game.
Morton and Burnett are both very “meh.” The advanced stats both like them more than the traditional stats, so it’s possible they’ve improved, but they both have such long histories of being not very good, that I’m going to assume they will be not very good for the rest of the season.
Starting Position Players and Likely Lineup
- Jose Tabata (R) – LF
- Josh Harrison (L) – RF
- Andrew McCutchen (R) – CF
- Pedro Alvarez (L) – 3B
- Neil Walker (R) – 2B
- Matt Hague (R) – 1B
- Rod Barajas (R) – C
- Clint Barmes (R) – SS
A few changes from last time. Notably, Matt Hague is now expected to get a lot of time at first. Why the Pirates are now carrying three first basemen is beyond me. Also, Harrison is now playing more-or-less everyday. Both of these are probably good for the Pirates.
The bullpen is fine. I said this last time with more words. I am saying it succinctly this time.
I wouldn’t expect either team to score a million runs in this series. The Reds bats have been coming around, and they are clearly the superior team, but the Pirates can pitch a bit. The Reds should take the series, but the games will likely be fun to watch.