The Pirates and Padres will blessedly wrap up this accursed series this afternoon at 6:35 at Petco Park, which seems like a very strange time to play a getaway game for an East Coast team in San Diego, but then the Pirates actually have an off-day tomorrow so maybe it doesn’t matter.
The Padres are starting a young gentleman by the name of Andrew Werner tonight; he actually spent all of 2010 pitching in the independent Frontier League (think Washington Wild Things) before being signed by the Padres. He moved pretty quickly through their minor league system and is making his big league debut tonight. This is a great story, of course, even if Werner isn’t a great prospect. He’s only made five starts in Triple-A Tuscon this year and he’s got a 5.79 ERA there. In Double-A he was only a little bit better over 18 starts.
Still, it looks like he keeps the ball on the ground and the Pirates will likely have almost no book on him at all since he’s only got five starts above Double-A. Hopefully the Pirates won’t have much trouble with Werner, but it sure seems possible to me that he keeps them guessing and they don’t hit many balls hard, at least the first time through the lineup (you may recognize this line of reasoning: It’s called, “Why I Thought Starting Kevin Correia on Monday Was Dumb”).
The Pirates could really use a win here though (this is the case pretty much every night when you’re in a playoff race!), and so an equal amount of pressure is on James McDonald tonight to make a second straight solid start. I’ve been pretty adamant in thinking that McDonald’s problem was something tangible and fixable beyond fatigue. Even though I’ve had zero time to do the research to back that claim up, I will continue making it in hopes that it’s true and that J-Mac’s strong start in St. Louis is proof the Pirates have addressed it. If I’m wrong, well, Petco’s a nice place to pitch when you’re struggling.
First pitch today is at 6:35. A win today makes the Pirates 8-12 over their last 20 days. I was hoping for 12-8, but given where things were a week ago, I’d happily settle for 8-12.