PNC Park | 7:05 | Van Benschoten vs. Taylor Buchholz | Box
It was just so predictable.
John Van Benschoten threw like a rookie struggling with control problems, the Rockies jumped out to a 5-0 lead, and despite putting forth their best effort toward a comeback, the Pirates dropped their fourth straight, 10-8.
You saw it coming a mile away. If you didn’t see it in the pre-game matchups, then you saw it as soon as Van Benschoten plunked the first batter of the game, Willy Taveras, with the first pitch of the game, a poorly located fastball.
You saw it as Adam LaRoche and Jason Bay struck out in the bottom of the first. You saw it as Jose Castillo booted ball after ball at third base.
Monday was not the Pirates’ night, no matter how hard the Rockies tried to give this game away. Not even when you consider that the bullpen pitched seven innings of two-hit ball. As soon as that first pitch left JVB’s hand, the fat lady started to sing.
If Tony Armas had started tonight, perhaps the Pirates would’ve had a chance to win.
When you couple the scouting report on Buchholz with John Van Benschoten’s recent struggles, you start to worry a little about tonight’s game.
Buchholz gets his first start since moving to the bullpen after a June 2 start against the Reds. Buchholz struggled as a starter — 1-3, 5.67 ERA in seven starts — but has been dominant since moving to the bullpen. In nine relief appearances, Buchholz has a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings.
At first glance, both righties are relatively young, unproven and throwing for mediocre teams. They have mediocre stat lines and mediocre stuff.
The difference is that one’s on the way up and one’s on the way down.
In five starts with the big club this year, JVB has thrown just 57 percent of his pitches for strikes. The knock on him at Triple-A was his low strikeout to walk ratio, and that’s continued to be an issue since his promotion. He doesn’t know where the ball’s going as it leaves his hand.
Colorado leads the National League in free passes, so you’d have to believe they’ll be patient this evening. Their .275 team batting average is tied for first as well. Offense isn’t an issue with the Rockies.
They’re sitting a game under .500 in large part due to a pitching staff that ranks near the bottom of the league in ERA. But as we’ve seen in the past—and as the Braves series brutally reminded us—the Pirates’ offense can make even the most suspect staffs look brilliant.
Let’s hope for a strong first inning and go from there. The last thing that Van Benschoten wants to do is fall behind early and have to rely on his teammates to dig out from a deficit.