June 21, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher James McDonald (53) delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of an interleague game at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The Pirates take on the Phillies tonight at Citizens Bank Ballpark in the third of a four-game set that has seen the Phils win the first two. Tonight the pitching matchup certainly favors the Pirates on paper, as James McDonald takes on Raul Valdes at 7:05.
The Phillies were put in a difficult position with injuries and a doubleheader this past Sunday so they have decided to go with a bullpen-by-committee approach that I detailed here. The 34-year old, lefthanded Valdes will be making his second career start and his first of the season. He has only pitched 14.2 innings, but he has been very effective. Nonetheless, it would be a huge surprise if he went more than three this evening. We can all sit back and enjoy watching Charlie Manuel, strategist, manage this one.
Clint Hurdle has decided to shuffle the lineup tonight in hopes of breaking the team's three game skid. Josh Harrison moves up top and Drew Sutton makes his first start for the Bucs after delivering a big pinch-hit double last night. Jose Tabata drops to the seven-hole:
For the Phillies it's a big night, as Chase Utley was activated this afternoon and will be making his season debut.
The Pirates need to win one of these two games because they next head to St. Louis to take on a Cardinals team that has won five in a row and six of seven. The Pirates pitchers in that series are Correia, Karstens and Bedard.