One-third of the season down, two-thirds to go. The Pirates open up their second third of the season (as confusing as that term looks) against the Cincinnati Reds, a team nearly as hot as the Bucs are. Pittsburgh is 16-4 in its last 20 games and leads Cincinnati (14-6 in last 20) by one game entering the series.

Alex Presley Bunting
Alex Presley said “it’s definitely an exciting time to be here.” (Photo credit: David Hague)

Vinnie Richichi from 93.7 The Fan asked manager Clint Hurdle what was most encouraging about the first third of the season.

“There’s more there,” Hurdle said. “I’m not sure there is any more out of our bullpen, but there’s more out of our starting rotation. There’s more out of our offense.”

Other areas Hurdle liked:

  • Defense (Pirates are 1st in MLB in defensive efficiency, 3rd in DRS, 12th in UZR)
  • Baserunning (Pirates are 8th in FanGraphs’ baserunning stat, 14th in stolen base percentage)

So how does Hurdle intend to overcome Bucco Collapse Syndrome (the new B.C.S.)?

“I think there’s been growth along those lines for the guys, in particular, that have been here now for the third year,” Hurdle. “We’ve got some guys that have been here externally that really don’t have that on them anyway. There’s no barnacles.”

Just for fun, let’s see what some of the Pirates are on pace for. All we have to do is multiply by three:

  • Starling Marte: .290, 15 home runs, 30 doubles, 108 runs, 153 strikeouts, 42 stolen bases
  • Andrew McCutchen: .290, 21 HR, 42 doubles, 105 runs, 81 RBI, 42 stolen bases
  • Garrett Jones: .272, 15 HR, 36 doubles, 78 RBI
  • Travis Snider: .263, 6 HR, 30 doubles
  • Pedro Alvarez: .200, 30 HR, 177 strikeouts
  • Russell Martin: .262, 18 HR, 30 doubles

Isn’t “on pace” fun?

  • A.J. Burnett: 9-15, 2.72 ERA, 267 strikeouts, 87 walks
  • Jeff Locke: 15-3, 2.25 ERA, 126 strikeouts, 78 walks
  • Wandy Rodriguez: 18-6, 3.58 ERA, 123 strikeouts, 27 walks
  • Jason Grilli: 1.09 ERA, 74 innings, 114 strikeouts, 15 walks, 66 saves
  • Mark Melancon: 0.93 ERA, 87 innings, 87 strikeouts, 6 walks
  • Justin Wilson: 1.41 ERA, 96 innings, 90 strikeouts, 42 walks

Presley’s Back

The Pirates made several roster moves today, adding pitchers Atahualpa Severino, Graham Godfrey to the system and promoting pitcher Zack Thornton from Altoona to Indianapolis. They also reinstated Chase d’Arnaud from the 60-day DL to Indy, while placing pitcher Kyle Waldrop on the Triple-A disabled list.

But the only move that affects the Major League roster is the promotion of outfielder Alex Presley and demotion of Josh Harrison. Bill Brink of the Post-Gazette pointed out the Pirates face three right-handed starting pitchers against the Reds this weekend, and the only main left-handed reliever of concern to Hurdle is Aroldis Chapman.

Hurdle also said he will be looking to give a day off to Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte over the next two series with the Pirates in the midst of 16 games in 16 days. Presley hit .281 for Indianapolis with a .798 OPS, stealing 9-of-12 bases.

“[I’m] just trying to work on a lot of the speed aspects of my game and stuff like that to get them ready and tune them up,” Presley said. “I’ll have a chance to do some of that here, hopefully.”

And it’s an exciting time for Presley to join the club.

“Any time we play the Reds, it’s a big series and especially the team’s playing really well,” Presley said.

Other Roster Tidbits

  • RHP James McDonald will pitch for Double-A Altoona in Portland, Maine on Saturday aiming for five innings and 80 pitches.
  • RHP Charlie Morton will pitch for Triple-A Indianapolis in Columbus on Sunday going for 80 pitches.
  • IF John McDonald was scheduled to play in the minors Thursday, but was scratched.
  • Bullpen Availability: LHPs Tony Watson and Justin Wilson plus RHP Vin Mazzaro likely will not pitch unless they are really needed. Jason Grilli is available to close.
  • 3B Pedro Alvarez was originally in Friday’s lineup after missing Thursday for wisdom teeth extraction, but was then scratched.

Lineups!

Cincinnati Reds (33-21, 3rd place in NL Central, 2.5 games back)

  1. CF Shin-Soo Choo (.295 average, 10 home runs)
  2. SS Zack Cozart (.242)
  3. 1B Joey Votto (.345, 10 HR)
  4. 2B Brandon Phillips (.287, 8 HR)
  5. RF Jay Bruce (.266, 7 HR)
  6. 3B Todd Frazier (.230, 6 HR)
  7. LF Derrick Robinson (.342)
  8. C Ryan Hanigan (.173)
  9. RHP Johnny Cueto (2-0, 2.76 ERA)

Pittsburgh Pirates (34-20, 2nd place in NL Central, 1.5 games back)

  1. LF Starling Marte (.290)
  2. 2B Neil Walker (.273)
  3. CF Andrew McCutchen (.290, 7 HR)
  4. 1B Garrett Jones (.272)
  5. RF Travis Snider (.263)
  6. C Michael McKenry (.250)
  7. 3B Brandon Inge (.211)
  8. SS Clint Barmes (.212)
  9. LHP Wandy Rodriguez (6-2, 3.58 ERA)
IMPORTANT: You will need to update your password after the switch to the new server in order to log in and comment. Go to the Password Reset Page to change your password.