April 4, 2011

Series Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

Normally the year starts slowly, but this year's World Champion Pirates start the season with ten straight home games. And so it is that the heavily favored Pirates, they of the .667 winning percentage, head to St. Louis to meet the lovable losers - the Cardinals, who have mustered only a .333 winning percentage. I normally have a rule that I never post the same preview babes more than once, but there are babes who it's worth breaking rules for and these are two of them.It was barely April before this year's Cardinals season started to look doomed. Ace pitcher Adam Wainwright, who won 39 games in the past two years while finishing in the top 3 in Cy Young voting both times, was already out for the season after right elbow surgery. Ryan Theriot was signed to lead off and play shortstop because, you know, I guess every team in the division needs a shortstop who fields poorly and hits poorly. And now five-tool slugger Matt Holliday has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with an appendectomy. Yesterday they went with a lineup of Theriot-Jay-Pujols-Berkman-Rasmus-Molina-Schumaker-Garcia-Descalso. That's not good. I don't know who Daniel Descalso is and I'm not looking it up.

Pirates vs. Cardinals
Monday 8:15, Tuesday 8:15, Wednesday 1:45

In a matchup that causes one to ask "Who the hell could possibly be these teams' fifth starters?" the Pirates go with Charlie Morton (2-12, 7.57 in 2010) against the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse (4-8, 6.55). Enough has already been said about Charlie Morton; I'm rooting for him just like you are. As far as Kyle Lohse, well, when your peak is going six innings every start and giving up three runs, the results aren't pretty after two years of steep decline. My pick is the Pirates.

Tomorrow night it's James McDonald (4-6, 4.02) against Kyle McClellan (1-4, 2.27). This is as interesting as fifth starter matchups get. McDonald of course was the Pirates' ace last year, but he's pushed back to this start because of lingering injury problems. The Pirates say he will be limited to 85-90 pitches. Let's hope he's actually ready to make this start, and not just making it for no reason. For what it's worth, I'm not entirely sure the actual starter won't be Jeff Karstens (3-10, 4.92). It's not like Karstens will be required out of the long relief role for Morton's start tonight...

McClellan moves to the rotation this year after quietly becoming the best reliever in the STL in 2010. He throws a 91 mph fastball with movement and a sharp-breaking curve. As a starter he will have to mix in his cutter changeup more often. If anyone can convert relievers to starters, it's Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan. Nobody knows what his secret is but I'm going to reveal it. It's standing around chewing tobacco. My pick is the Pirates.

Wednesday, both club's aces face off as Kevin Correia (1-0, 3.00) takes on Chris Carpenter (0-0, 2.57). For obvious reasons, my pick is the Pirates.

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