Pirates (3-1) @ Cardinals (1-3)
James McDonald (0-0) vs Kyle McClellan (0-0)
The Pirates are off to a 3-1 start and with a win in one of the next two games, the Pirates can claim back-to-back road series wins for the first time since 2007.
A surprise for the Pirates through four games has been the team getting strong starting pitching. Considered a major weakness, the Pirates starting rotation enters tonight’s game with a 2.55 ERA.
James McDonald takes the mound tonight against right hander Kyle McClellan.
McDonald, 26, went 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 11 starts with the Pirates last season, after being acquired at the July trade deadline.
After coming to the Pirates, McDonald showed excellent strikeout potential, posting 6 strikeouts or more in 7 of his 11 starts.
McDonald posted — 8.58 K’s-per-nine ratio with the Pirates.
There is a lot of intrigue surrounding McDonald as to whether he can take that next step and keep progressing this season.
For tonight McDonald will be on a pitch count due to injury and his limited work in spring.
The plan is expected to be about an 80-85 pitch count and the Pirates bullpen could be pivotal tonight.
In 2010, McDonald was 0-1 in one start (9/29/10) against the Cardinals. In his only start, he had a strong outing against the Cards, allowing 5 hits and 1 run in 6 innings pitched. McDonald also struck out 7 batters and walked none.
Expectations for McDonald are somewhat “lukewarm” tonight due to him coming off a minor injury and the pressure will be on McClellan who makes his first ever start with the Cards off to a 1-3 start.
A reliever turned starter, McClellan has three years of MLB experience, making 202 relief appearances during that span.
McClellan, 26, was 4-0 in the spring with a 0.78 ERA.
In 20 relief apperances (23 innings pitched) against the Pirates, McClellan has given up 14 hits and 6 runs.
McClellan was dominant against the Pirates last season in relief, surrendering 0 runs and 0 hits in 6 innings pitched.
McClellan is very effective against lefties and has an excellent cutter.
The Pirates will have 2 lefties in the lineup.
1. Jose Tabata, LF, .429
2. Neil Walker, 2B, .412
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF, .273
4. Lyle Overbay, 1B, .200
5. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, .235
6. Matt Diaz, RF, .143
7. Jason Jaramillo, C, .250
8. Ronny Cedeno, SS, .231
9. James McDonald, P