I typically check the probable starting pitchers prior to each new series, seemingly always disappointed that the Bucs never seem to miss the other team's Aces. To my delight it looks like we're not only gonna miss Zach Greinke this weekend, but also Pirate-killer Y. Gallardo. To me that's HUGE. Going up against the Killer G's had 2 losses and 2 double-digit strikeout performances written all over it. At least in my opinion.
And does anybody else kinda like the look of today's line-up, with Mercer in the 2 hole and Hague entrenched in the 7-spot? I even like Jones at 6 (he certainly has his issues, but given the alternatives, I would find it hard to ever sit him v. Righties for the power threat alone). I remember some line-ups just a few weeks back that were filled after the clean-up spot with McGee, Navarro, Barmes and a pre-'breakout' Barajas in the 5-8 holes, and you just knew runs were gonna be at an even bigger premium.
And finally, is there any bigger mystery-wildcard that factors into current and future progress as the play the rest of the year of Jose Tabata and Neil Walker? Right now Pedro has plenty he needs to improve on, but at least there are clear (semi-clear?) signs of progress. But with Walker and Tabata, I just can't get a true feel as to whether or not they are real pieces to build around, or if they are destined to be simply average. What happened to all the doubles they both used to seemingly hit with regularity? And the streakiness has been maddening. My gut says Tabata may simply turn out to be an elite-level 4th outfielder, but I really do think (or is it hope?) that Walker will figure things out and be a legit piece as an average-fielding secondbaseman with some pop.