After a fairly improbable win last night that required a Johnny Cueto injury and a million or so Reds left on base, the Pirates have a chance to sweep the Reds this afternoon. They're going to have to do it with a pitcher making his big league debut, as Phil Irwin's been called up to make Wandy Rodriguez's start as Wandy recovers from his hamstring injury. I talked about Irwin a bit before he tailed off at the end of spring training; he's pitched his way into being a fringe prospect, but for now his ceiling is probably approximately in the Jeff Karstens range. He doesn't throw his fastball very hard but he can put it where he needs it to go and he supplements it with a pretty ridiculous curveball that can occasionally make batters look stupid and that earned him his nickname "Filthy Phil."
Now, I want you to think about all of the times that the Pirates have faced lightly considered young pitchers and come away looking stupid, simply because they didn't have a book on him yet. And remember that the Reds haven't seen Irwin at all because they train in Arizona like chumps and that he's only made six starts at the Triple-A level and that no one was even sure who was starting this game until yesterday. That's the Pirates' ticket to success today, I think; the Reds simply being unprepared to face a pitcher that isn't really great, but who should be good enough to take advantage of a lineup that might not be ready for him.
Mat Latos is going for the Reds today. He was even better against the Pirates last year than Cueto was (three starts, 19 innings, 21 strikeouts, only three earned runs allowed). The Pirates will need to find a way to score some runs to support Irwin. First pitch today is at 1:35. The awesome early-1970s throwback uniforms will be in full effect today.