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Pittsburgh vs. St. Louis, 5 September 2007

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8:10, FSNP, WPGB

Tony Armas (2-5, 6.75) vs. Mark Mulder (0-0).

Tonight's game should be pretty interesting, at least for Cardinals fans, as Mulder makes his 2007 debut. Here's the box. Cesar Izturis plays third and leads off. Isn't that awesome?

For Pirates fans, it's a pretty slow day. The Post-Gazette quotes Jim Tracy on the Bucs' young starters:

Beyond that, just about all Tracy can say for sure is that he has no intention -- health issues aside -- to rest Gorzelanny, Snell or Maholm, even though all three are on pace to surpass their career highs for innings pitched. Gorzelanny has 171 1/3 innings, already 10 more than his previous high set last year. Snell has 182, four fewer than his high. And Maholm has 173, three fewer than his high.

Tracy's reasoning?

"It's important for our young guys to realize that the season is six months long," he said. "With the progress they've already made, you'd like to see that very soon. You want to see them able to pitch these games with a lot of meaning, hopefully, as soon as next year. And, if you're fortunate to get beyond that sixth month, now, all of a sudden, you need even more from those guys."

Pat has a problem with this, but I don't, really. For one thing, there's no one else to start. Every start that Snell, Gorzelanny and Maholm don't make is another one for Armas or Shane Youman or Bryan Bullington.

For another thing, none of the Bucs' three good starters are that young anymore - all three are 25. Given the injury struggles Pirates pitchers have had, this may be hard to believe, but age 25 is actually a relatively safe time for pitchers. And these guys, if they're healthy, should be pitching more each year, to a point. Maholm, if he returns soon, and Snell will probably pitch about 30 more innings than they did last year; Gorzelanny may pitch 40 more. I'd watch them closely, but those numbers don't seem excessive to me. The A's had Dan Haren pitch 223 innings last year at age 25, and I'd say he's doing fine. If there's a medical reason to shut the Pirates' young pitchers down, then they should be shut down, but if there isn't, I wouldn't do it.