April 15, 2011

Series Preview: Cincinnati Reds

The Pirates (5-7) will try to make up ground on the division leading Reds (8-4) in four game series in Cincinnati. It's my favorite type of series - the four game wraparound.

I've been wanting to go see the new Reds stadium because it's sort of stupid that I've been to 20 stadiums including Oakland, Tampa Bay, etc., but not this nearby division rival. Unfortunately I only have one friend in Cincinnati who likes me enough that I could spend the weekend at their house, and I took her up on that offer in 2005 resulting in the number of friends of that description decreasing to zero and me watching this series on TV.

Like many of us the Pirates are in a poor situation with no justifiable reason to have a tremendous amount of hope, yet like many of us they have 150 more games scheduled and will try their best to right the ship. I've been to all six home games and I see a team that is reinvigorated, talented, and just hasn't gotten everything together yet. Crosby and Malkin aren't playing, but it's still worth watching this bunch.

On the other side, the Reds have really done a beautiful job of constructing a team. All their regulars are in the prime of their careers except the veteran leader Scott Rolen and the up-and-coming star Jay Bruce. Their bench is a mix of useful and versatile veterans and young players who would be able to step in if anything went wrong. Their rotation, the reliable veteran Bronson Arroyo along with some young, high-strikeout guys. A lights out bullpen. The Pirates have zero starting shortstops; the Reds have two.

Except for the high likelihood of violent crime in most of their city neighborhoods, it really is a charmed life in Cincinnati. Also, everyone knows all the babes in Ohio root for the Indians so I am forced to use a picture of Buckeyes babes.Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds
Friday 7:10, Saturday 1:10, Sunday 1:10, Monday 7:10

Pittsburgh goes with Charlie Morton (1-0, 2.08) against Arroyo (2-0, 2.08). I was the first person to criticize keeping Morton in the rotation. I'm not sold yet but it looks like the right decision so far. In particular, his recent home start really impressed me - it looked like a classic Charlie Morton implosion in the first inning but he didn't let it get to him and let his stuff power him to what ended up as a strong seven inning start. I have a lot of experience in admitting when I'm wrong and I'm quite good at it. My pick is the Pirates.

Tomorrow it's a day game and James McDonald (0-0, 5.56) faces Edinson Volquez (2-0, 5.82). Volquez has upped his average fastball velocity to 94 this season and it's still only his third-best pitch. In a battle of strikeout hitters against strikeout pitchers, I'm officially scared. My pick is still the Pirates.

The Reds are going with Mike Leake (1-0, 6.75) Sunday and the Pirates haven't yet announced a starter. I'm going to announce it for them - it's Jeff Karstens (1-0, 0.00). He had a brilliant outing in relief of the injured Ross Ohlendorf and absolutely deserves the open rotation spot at this point. I also hate Mike Leake. You know those people who got out of college, immediately got a great job and never will realize life is hard? That happened to Mike Leake. My pick is the Pirates.

Kevin Correia (2-1, 2.70) starts Monday night and the Reds haven't yet named a starter. Clearly they are intimidated. My pick is the Pirates.

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