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series-preview-braves-pirates | May | 2010 Articles

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Series Preview - Braves @ Pirates

Written by Joe Lucia on .

Heading to Pittsburgh this weekned, where t-storms await... Let me get this off the bat right away: I'm biased against Pittsburgh for a variety of reasons. I'm a huge Baltimore Ravens fan, so naturally, I hate the Steelers. I went to school in Pittsburgh for one semester at Duquesne University, and had a crappy time. I'm not a huge hockey fan, but I hate the Penguins because their star player is a huge whiner and cost the USA a gold medal in February at the Olympics. But I will say this...PNC Park is totally awesome. Its a beautiful field with a fan friendly atmosphere and great concessions. And I don't think there is a better walk to the ballpark than walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge to the stadium. As nice as PNC Park may be, it doesn't change the fact that the team that plays 81 games a year in it is really bad. There is some hope in Pittsburgh though, as the team has 2 absolute stud hitters in the majors right now in the form of Andrew McCutcheon and Ryan Doumit. McCutcheon is a 5 tool player, and does each of those 5 tools very well...barring injury, he's going to get a 20/20 year without breaking much of a sweat. Doumit is one of the top catchers in the league, despite his mystifying lack of power this season. The Pirates have other relatively young guys who are adequate offensively, like Andy LaRoche and Garrett Jones, not to mention Lastings Milledge and his still-developing potential. After blowing up their offense over the past couple of seasons, the Pirates have some nice pieces in play that make them a little bit legitimate...unless of course, they get traded in the next couple years like the men who preceded them. The Pirates pitching staff...well, what can I say nice about them...tonight's starter is Ross Ohlendorf, a media darling due to the internship he held in the US government (I forget which department...agriculture, I do believe) that he held during the winter. He's got an ERA of 3.00 despite more walks than strikeouts. Saturday's starter is former Brave Charlie Morton, acquired last season in the Nate McLouth deal. He's got a 30:10 K:BB ratio...but he's allowed 8 homers in 35 1/3 innings, and a bad outing could push his ERA to 4 figures. Finally, Sunday's starter is Zach Duke...he's got 3 wins to lead the team. That's all I've really got...the starting pitching on this team is terrible. There are no bones about it, really. The bullpen isn't much better, though they have an absolute stud in former Rule V pick Evan Meek as the setup man for former Brave, and current Pirate closer, Octavio Dotel, who is pitching pretty well lately, only allowing 2 hits over the entire month of May. The rest of the bullpen is filled out by guys like DJ Carrasco, Jack Taschner, and Brendan Donnelly...not exactly a murderer's row. The Braves shouldn't have any issues piling up runs against this Pirates team. Duke is a lefty, which means that Eric Hinske will likely be on the bench for Sunday's series finale. The Braves offense is heating up...Nate McLouth is coming around at just the right time in his return to Pittsburgh, going 9 for his last 24 with 4 doubles. Since the beginning of last weekend's Diamonbacks series, Nate has pushed his average up 36 points. Baby steps people! On the other side of the coin, Yunel Escobar is only 3 for 21 since coming off the DL last weekend. He needs to get things going, otherwise the Braves will have a problem. Escobar is the only cog of the offensive machine that is really not flowing right now. He should be able to come along just fine coming back from his hamstring injury, but the real question is WHEN he will turn things around. Tim Hudson starts the opener of the series, and he's been extremely lucky with balls in play this year, but is still pitching very effectively, with all but one of his starts being of the quality variety. Starting Saturday is Derek Lowe, who has strung together a pair of quality starts in a row following his shellacking in what will forever be known as The Jamie Moyer Game 2 weeks ago. He completed 7 innings for the first time all season in his last start against the Mets, and had a 14:6 GB:FB ratio. Like I said about McLouth...baby steps. Sunday's starter is none other than Kris Medlen, who has only walked 5 men all season and has given the Braves a good chance to win in both of his starts...the team did win both of his starts, despite Medlen not getting a decision in either. First pitch is in under 2 hours! Make sure to watch the game, and check back here for the recap...sometime before tomorrow's game.
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