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Reds vs. Pirates – Series Preview

We know, we know, it’s only April.  But already, this is a huge series for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  After a strong start to the season, the Bucs have fallen to 8-11 on the year, all against N.L. Central opponents.  It is NEVER too early in the season to discuss head-to-head divisional matchups, and for the Pirates, they’ve already found themselves in the hole against the Milwaukee Brewers (1-6 record).  Now, after losing two of three to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark last week, the Pirates welcome them back to the Steel City for a four game set at PNC Park.

There is reason for concern already in Pittsburgh…not so much because of the record, but because of how they are losing games.  The past two games, the Bucs have been in position to win the game heading into the final inning.  In both cases, they have turned the ball over to closer Jason Grilli, and both have resulted in a blown save and a loss.  That is the blaring difference between this young season and last year…the Pirates won those close games…and right now, they’re not getting it done.

The starting pitching, with the exception of Gerrit Cole and Edinson Volquez, has been a disappointment as well.  Charlie Morton, Francisco Liriano, and Wandy Rodriguez will look to improve their numbers and, more importantly, put the Bucs in a position to win this week against the Reds.  And for Rodriguez, his chances to prove himself as a legitimate piece in this starting rotation may be running out.  There are capable pitchers in Triple A to turn to in the even Wandy’s numbers don’t improve quickly.

The Reds (8-10) and the Pirates (8-11) have already had plenty of ups and downs in this young season, and both are eyeing a positive series this week to get back on the right track as baseball’s opening month soon draws to a close.

Pitching Matchups:

4/21 – Mike Leake (CIN) (2-1, 2.95 ERA, WHIP 0.89 vs. Francisco Liriano (PIT) (0-3, 3.96 ERA, WHIP 1.24)

4/22 – Johnny Cueto (CIN) (1-2, 1.50 ERA, WHIP 0.80) vs. Edinson Volquez (PIT) (1-0, 1.71 ERA, WHIP 0.95)

4/23 – Alfredo Simon (CIN) (2-1, 0.86 ERA, WHIP 0.81) vs. Charlie Morton (PIT) (0-2, 4.32 ERA, WHIP 1.32)

4/24 – Tony Cingrani (CIN) (1-2, 3.22 ERA, WHIP 1.21) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (PIT) (0-2, 7.65 ERA, WHIP 1.60)

The Pirates will look to finish up this home stand strong in this four game series against the Reds.  For the latest news and updates on the Pittsburgh Pirates, be sure to check back right here at Fans From The Stands!

And…

As Always…

Let’s Go Bucs!

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor