Game 64: Mets (31-33) @ Pirates (31-32)
Three weeks from today San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy will announce his National League roster for the All-Star Game. I’d say that means it’s not too early to start debating the credentials of a handful of players. Unlike some years, when no Pirates players have really been all that deserving, there appear to be five players who could be legitimately considered. Let’s take a look at each, and feel free to chime in with your thoughts…
- Kevin Correia — Though his ERA ranks just fourth among the team’s five starters, you can’t ignore the win total. Correia was the first Major League pitcher to eight wins, and he’ll be just the second to nine if he can pick one up today. If, in three weeks, Correia is still among the league leaders in wins, you’d have to think he’ll be seriously considered
- Joel Hanrahan — He is not the game’s most well-known closer, but he has been as dominant as any closer this season. Now 16-for-16 in save opportunities, Hanrahan is rapidly establishing himself as a one of the league’s most reliable ninth-inning guys. And when that fastball-slider combo is working, Hanrahan is nearly unhittable.
- Charlie Morton — He doesn’t have the wins Correia has, but Morton has the team’s second-lowest ERA (3.08) and is being recognized league-wide for the dramatic turnaround he’s made since last year. Morton is continuing to become more comfortable with his delivery, though in his results in the meantime are remarkably good for someone who pitched entirely different a year ago.
- Andrew McCutchen — On a national scale, he is perhaps the best known player on this club, catching attention mostly through his speed and energy. McCutchen got off to a slow start , but he now ranks third among center fielders in home runs (10) and batting average (.284). He’s the first guy on this team that people point to and think potential superstar and that can be influential in All-Star selections.
- Neil Walker – Though Walker hasn’t had the most productive last few weeks, he is still leading all NL second baseman with 40 RBIs heading into Sunday’s game. His eight home runs ranks fourth in the group.
Who, in your opinion, deserves to be selected? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
As for today’s other news and notes:
- Third baseman Josh Harrison has minor tightness in his right oblique, an injury he sustained when beating out an infield hit in the seventh on Saturday. He said he doesn’t believe it’s much more than a day-to-day thing, though we’ve seen before that oblique injuries can have a tendency to linger. The Pirates really don’t want to put a 10th guy on the DL, but they also can’t afford to have Harrison unable to play for a long time either. He was told not to throw or swing a bat on Sunday.
- Don’t look for Jose Veras to be coming out of the bullpen this afternoon. Manager Clint Hurdle would like to stay away from the right-hander, who has pitched three out of the last four days.
- You will be able to read more on this subject in the pirates.com notebook later today, but Hurdle said he is willing to keep mixing and matching, as needed, in the late-innings as he did with Tony Watson and Veras in the eighth on Saturday. Having two left-handers gives Hurdle that luxury. Now that Hurdle doesn’t have a set set-up man, he said he’ll go with the hot hand (who has been pitching the best lately) when deciding who will pitch the seventh and eighth.
- Depending on how quickly the Pirates address their catching needs by adding someone from the outside, Wyatt Toregas might not make another start for the club. Whether or not that ends up being the case, he earned praise for his job on Saturday. Toregas began his night by throwing out a speedy Jose Reyes in the first, which proved big when the next two hitters reached. He called a solid game, handled the pitchers well and make a key block on a low breaking pitch in the eighth. “Wyatt showed up as big as anybody,” Hurdle said.
- The Pirates have now started five different catchers this season, the most since 2007. If the club gets to six, that would be the first time since 1988. Bonus points for anyone who can name the team’s six catchers from that year without looking it up.
- McCutchen enters Sunday riding a 10-game hitting streak. That matches Jose Tabata for the Pirates’ longest streak of the season. He has hit .474 with five doubles, a homer and 10 RBIs in June.
- If the Pirates win today, it will solidify their first winning homestand of the season. It would also put Pittsburgh back at .500. The club has not been at .500 this late in a season since (drum roll please) 1999.
- Correia is aiming to join Roy Halladay as the Majors’ only nine game winner. He’s also looking to change his luck at PNC Park. Correia is 1-3 with a 5.76 ERA at home this season. That is in stark contrast to his 7-1 record and 2.42 ERA on the road.
- Did you realize that the Pirates’ starter with the lowest ERA is Jeff Karstens? His 2.94 mark is also the eighth lowest in the NL.
PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), M. Diaz (RF), A. McCutchen (CF), N. Walker (2B), L. Overbay (1B), B. Wood (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), D. Brown (C), K. Correia (RHP)
METS: J. Reyes (SS), J. Turner (3B), C. Beltran (RF), D. Murphy (1B), A. Pagan (CF), J. Bay (LF), J. Thole (C), R. Tejada (2B), C. Capuano (LHP)
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