Bucs get in ring with Cards, leading with their left
This is where the Pirates will really miss Wandy Rodriguez.
Much has been made, justly so, of the Bucs’ depth in starters. After all, they went through 11 of them fairly early this season, without missing a beat.
However, being able to start three left-handers in the five-game series that begins tonight with the Cardinals would be a tremendous advantage for the Pirates — and packing three southpaws would continue to be an edge down a stretch in which the Bucs will play 20 of their remaining 59 games against the Cardinals and the Reds.
St. Louis has a record of 11-13 against left-handed starters — a remarkable outtake for a team with the Majors’ best record. The reasons for that are hard to isolate; both second basemen (Chris Carpenter, Daniel Descalso) and center fielder Jon Jay are lefty hitters and switcher Carlos Beltran definitely has more pop from the left side. But a team with Allen Craig, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina still has most of its firepower on the right side.
It could simply be the novelty; the rotations of most teams do not have multiple southpaws.
Whatever, being able to throw three lefties at St. Louis would be a plus. Same, incidentally, for Cincinnati down the road: At 19-19 against lefties, the Reds aren’t much better.
The Bucs are leading with Francisco Liriano tonight, and have Jeff Locke on tap for Wednesday. Two is good. Three would be better — so it would not be surprising if GM Neal Huntington is going down to the Trade Deadline shopping for a lefty arm.
Barring an acquisition, the unannounced starter for Game Two of tomorrow night’s doubleheader could be a lefty recalled from Indianapolis. Best bet Kris Johnson — who is 9-4 with a 2.44 ERA — is out after going seven innings on Saturday. Another option is Andy Oliver, who has not been as consistent (5-3, 3.97) but is well rested.
Would Clint Hurdle consider giving the spot start to Justin Wilson, rather than Jeanmar Gomez? Possibility.