2011 Pittsburgh Pirates: 72-90 (4th in NL Central) vs Reds (10-5)
2012 Dates: @Pitt: May 4-6, May 28-30, Sept. 28-30 @ Cin: June 5-7, Aug. 3-5, Sept. 10-12
The Pittsburgh Pirates started off hot in 2011, including a 5-1 record against the Reds in first half, but faded hard in the second half when they went 8-22 in August.
With that strong start, the Pirates believe that they are on the right track and only made minor adjustments this offseason. Perhaps the biggest move was to acquire former Yankee A.J. Burnett, but Burnett broke his orbital bone and will miss 2-3 months from the injury.
With Burnett out, the Pirates rotation will be led by Jeff Karstens and Kevin Correia. Correia was named an All-Star after winning 11 games in the first half, but only won just once after the All-Star break. Pittsburgh will call on veteran Erik Bedard to start opening day for Burnett. Bedard went 5-9 last season for the Mariners and Red Sox.
Reds fans will be disappointed to know that Charlie Morton returns to Pirates rotation. Despite going 10-10 with a 3.83 ERA, Morton went 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in four starts against the Reds last year. In those games, two were complete games, including one shutout.
The bullpen is anchored by All-Star Joel Hanrahan. Last season Hanrahan saved 40 games in 44 chances for the Pirates.The bullpen also features 2010 All-Star Evan Meek and Daniel McCutchen, who posted a 3.72 ERA in 73 relief appearances.
The Pirates also brought in former Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee to challenge former No. 1 pick Pedro Alvarez. Since joining the Pirates in 2010, the college standout has struggled, hitting just .230 with 20 home runs.
Pittsburgh acquired shortstop Clint Barmes and Rod Barajas, who should give the Pirates a viable player at the catcher position, something they’ve lacked in the past.
The Pirates offense will be sparked by second baseman Neil Walker and the Bucs’ trio in the outfield: Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Alex Presley.
Pittsburgh is hoping to avoid their 20th consecutive losing season this season, the longest streak in baseball history.
Projected lineup (as of 3/30)
1. A.J. Burnett* (11-11, 5.15 ERA, 173 strikeouts w/Yankees)
2. Jeff Karstens (9-9, 3.38 ERA, 96 Ks)
3. Kevin Correia (12-11, 4.79 ERA, 77 Ks)
4. Charlie Morton (10-10, 3.83 ERA, 110 Ks)
5. James McDonald (9-9, 4.21 ERA, 142 Ks)
6. Erik Bedard (5-9, 3.62 ERA, 125 Ks w/Mariners&Red Sox)
7. Brad Lincoln (2-3, 4.72 ERA, 29 Ks)
Closer: Joel Hanrahan (1-4, 1.83 ERA, 61 Ks, 40 saves)
*Burnett will miss first 2-3 months
C. Rod Barajas (98 games played, .230 avg, 16 HR, 47 RBI w/Dodgers)
1B. Garrett Jones (148 games, .243 avg, 16 HR, 58 RBI)
2B. Neil Walker (159 games, .273 avg, 12 HR, 83 RBI)
SS. Clint Barmes (123 games, .244 avg, 12 HR, 39 RBI w/Astros)
3B. Pedro Alvarez (74 games, .191 avg, 4 HR, 19 RBI)
LF. Alex Presley (52 games, .298 avg, 4 HR, 20 RBI)
CF. Andrew McCutchen (158 games, .259 avg, 23 HR, 89 RBI)
RF. Jose Tabata (91 games, .266 avg, 4 HR, 21 RBI)
C. Michael McKenry
IF. Casey McGehee (w/Brewers in 2011), Josh Harrison, Yamaico Navarro (w/Red Sox&Royals in 2011)
OF. Nate McLouth (w/Braves in 2011)