After a 3-3 road trip, the Pirates return to Pittsburgh for their first home stand since the All Star break. After losing two of three to the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park, the Pirates responded by winning a three game series against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Pirates sit at 51-40 on the season, and are only a half game behind the Cincinnati Reds in the N.L. Central.
Andrew McCutchen is one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball right now, while Neil Walker is hitting the ball better than he has all season. Pedro Alvarez, Garrett Jones, and Casey McGehee are becoming extremely dangerous in spots recently, which are giving this team continued offensive potency. After beginning the season as one of the weakest offenses in baseball, the Pirates have been incredible in June and July. They’ve scored a total of 33 runs in six games since the All Star break.
The starting pitching has been slowly declining slightly recently, which is cause for some concern. James McDonald has severely struggled in his last two starts, while Kevin Correia has performed lately like the middle-of-the-road pitcher that he has been his entire career.
With the trade deadline nearing at the end of the month, rumors are swirling about players the Pirates are interested in, most notably Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Paul Maholm of the Chicago Cubs. Amidst the rumors, though, the Pirates need to continue to win ballgames and keep pace with the Reds in the N.L. Central to make any trades the team may make in the coming weeks relevant and significant.
Marlins (44-48) vs. Pirates (51-40)
About the Marlins…
44-48 Record, 4th In N.L. East
Last Series: 1-2 Series Loss @ Chicago Cubs
We had to say that we saw this one coming. Despite the offseason acquisitions, official move to Miami and brand new stadium, the Marlins have been just an average team this year. Entering the 2012 season, we, here at Fans From The Stands, thought they were totally overhyped, picked by some baseball analysts to advance to the World Series. But yet, here we sit shortly after the All Star break, and the Marlins are four games under .500 and in fourth place in the N.L. East.
After a rough start to the season in April, Miami played like a team deserving of the hype, turning in a 21-8 record in May. But as impressive as May was, June was that bad, enduring a 9-18 record for the month including an abysmal 2-15 stretch through part of their Interleague Play schedule. They’ve played close to .500 ball in July so far, which most recently included a series loss to the red-hot Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The dynamic between Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez grabbed a lot of the headlines in the offseason, but for all the hoopla and drama involved, neither one has been all that impressive this year. Reyes is hitting at .264, while Ramirez has a .246 average to go along with his 14 HR and 47 RBIs. Without question, Giancarlo Stanton has been the offensive stud on this team, hitting at a .284 clip with 19 HR and 50 RBIs.
On paper before the season began, the Marlins’ pitching rotation looked stacked…but they’ve been up and down this year. Mark Buerhle, another offseason acquisition, leads the team in wins (9) and ERA (3.29), while Josh Johnson has had a setback this year, with a 5-7 record and a 4.35 ERA. Much like their lineup, their pitching rotation simply hasn’t lived up to the hype and expectations.
7/20 – Ricky Nolasco (MIA) (8-7, 4.47 ERA, 66 K, 30 BB, WHIP 1.35) vs. Kevin Correia (PIT) (6-6, 4.25 ERA, 41 K, 28 BB, WHIP 1.27)
7/21 – Carlos Zambrano (MIA) (5-7, 4.22 ERA, 77 K, 57 BB, WHIP 1.42) vs. A.J. Burnett (PIT) (10-3, 3.78 ERA, 86 K, 33 BB, WHIP 1.30)
7/22 – Anibal Sanchez (MIA) (5-6, 3.95 ERA, 102 K, 33 BB, WHIP 1.27) vs. Jeff Karstens (PIT) (2-2, 4.15 ERA, 28 K, 7 BB, WHIP 1.21)
Quotes From Both Sides:
[box_dark] “The reality is I think every game is now magnified. We just have to start winning games…or else we are going to lose complete contact and then we’ll have to make decisions from there.” [/box_dark]
Larry Beinfest, Miami’s baseball operations president, on Marlins’ struggles
[box_dark] “This might be the best I’ve ever seen. I’m taking into consideration our lineup and everything else and thinking, wow, this is special.” [/box_dark]
Clint Hurdle on Andrew McCutchen’s play this month
The Pirates trail the Reds by just a half game entering this weekend. While the Marlins’ record isn’t impressive, this is still a lineup with loads of talent, making this a very interesting series to watch the next three days. Be sure to check back here for recaps and reactions to each and every Pirates game from us, the Fans From The Stands!
Let’s Go Bucs!