Chicago Cubs (43-65) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (54-52)
CHI Carlos Zambrano (7-6, 4.59 ERA) vs PIT Paul Maholm (6-10, 3.16)
Pirates lead season series, 6-3
— With the arrival of Derrek Lee, the Pirates this afternoon designated Lyle Overbay for assignment.
The team will make a second move shortly, but team officials say there will be no announcement until Ryan Ludwick arrives at the clubhouse, which should be soon as the team currently has him scheduled to be in the lineup.
Pedro Ciriaco is expected to be sent down.
The additions of Lee and Ludwick have prompted a shakeup in the lineup as Andrew McCutchen moves into the leadoff spot, while Lee has moved right into the cleanup spot and Ludwick will bat behind Lee in the No. 5 spot.
The Pirates have lost 8 of 11 and questions remain whether the acquisitions of Lee and Ludwick can be any kind of game changer in the National League Central, where the Pirates have fallen 4.5 games behind Central leading Milwaukee.
Statistics show that the additions have been modest upgrades at best as Lee and Ludwick are both on the downside of their careers.
The Pirates though got both players basically for nothing and the hope is that at least one of them can provide some kind of boost. Of scouts we were in contact with today, the consensus is that Lee could be the one to provide a possible boost to the lineup.
Lee and Ludwick are two players who have been going in opposite directions since the All-Star break.
Lee who is hitting .246 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI’s on the season, is batting .298 since the All-Star break and has 6 homers and 19 RBI’s in his last 72 at-bats.
The Pirates feel a return to the National League could prove worth while for Lee. This season he is hitting .317 (20-for-63) against National League teams. Tonight he faces his former team in the Chicago Cubs.
Lee is 3-for-8 with a double in his career against former teammate Carlos Zambrono.
Ludwick, 33, is hitting .238 with 11 home runs and 64 RBI’s this season. He’s been a player who’s really struggled of late, batting .172 in July and .192 since the All-Star Break. Ludwick though, does have the ability to drive in runs, with 64 RBI’s this season.
He has a .301 on-base percentage and .674 OPS. By comparison, Garrett Jones has a .315 on-base percentage and .718 OPS.
However, you can’t blame the Pirates for taking the chance on Ludwick, after other options fell through.
Ludwick is 6-for-12 with 1 home run and 2 RBI’s against the Cubs. He’s been extremely successful in his career against Zambrono, going 9-for-22 (.409) with 2 home runs – 5 RBI’s.
The addition of Ludwick and Lee has bumped Pedro Alvarez down to the No. 6 spot in the lineup. Alvarez is 4-for-29 with 1 home run and 4 RBI’s since returning from the minors last Monday. He is 4-for-13 with 4 RBI’s against the Cubs this season.
With Andrew McCutchen moving to the leadoff spot, it will hopefully prompt him to being more aggressive on the base pads. He had just 1 stolen base in July.
— Paul Maholm has allowed just 1 run in 23 1/3 innings against the Cubs in three starts. He is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in his last three starts.
— Andrew McCutchen is batting .346 with 4 home runs – 11 RBI’s against the Cubs. McCutchen is 5-for-9 with a double, triple and 2 RBI’s in his career against Zambrono.
— Neil Walker is batting .351 with 1 home – 10 RBI’s against the Cubs this season. Walker has his batting average up to .278 on the season, hitting .429 in his last 12 games.
— Garrett Jones is hitting .136 since the All-Star break but is 5-for-12 with 2 home runs, 4 RBI’s in his career against Zambrono.
— Carlos Zambrono is 7-1 with a 3.90 ERA in his career in Pittsburgh.
1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
2. Garrett Jones, RF
3. Neil Walker, 2B
4. Derrek Lee, 1B
5. Ryan Ludwick, LF
6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
7. Ronny Cedeno, SS
8. Michael McKenry, C
9. Paul Maholm, P