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Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati, 27 May 2007

This thread is for SUNDAY's game. I'm not sure I'll be around for the start of this one.

1:15 PM


Zach Duke (1-5, 5.56) vs. Kirk Saarloos (0-3, 5.09). This is yet another winnable game for the Bucs - Saarloos is a junkballing journeyman who struggles to strike out a batter for every one he walks.

Startlingly, Duke is ranked 121st out of 122 pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched in strikouts per nine innings - only Jeremy Sowers is worse. Nobody pitched 160 or more innings last year and had a K/9 lower than Duke's. Obviously, Duke needs to improve that, or he's going to find himself on the Horacio Ramirez career path in short order.

Duke is no sure bet to throw seven-plus innings, which is unfortunate, because Saturday's game was the sort of contest in which John Grabow and even LOOGY Damaso Marte had to bat. One thing to watch for: Tom Gorzelanny is supposed to start on Tuesday, but he's battling a thumb injury from his last start. If there's any uncertainty about whether he's going to make his next one, Jim Tracy will have to have a replacement in mind. However, he's probably going to need plenty of relief help on Sunday, and because of the strain on the bullpen Saturday, it's the sort of game where some long relief would probably help. Will Tracy use Tony Armas in that role, or attempt to preserve him in case Gorzelanny can't go?