Right-hander Brad Lincoln will take the bump at 4:05 this afternoon to face the Tigers in his fifth start of the season. It will be his fourth straight since moving from the bullpen into the rotation.
Yesterday, Lincoln told me about what he was working on during the days in between his starts. The focus was on fastball command and keeping himself closed. Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said after his start in Cleveland that a lot of times, Lincoln was easy to see.
“Especially when I do get ahead in the count, be able to put the ball off the plate instead of on the corner,” Lincoln said of fastball command. “I worked on that a lot in my bullpen. Just being able to throw my breaking ball for an out pitch instead of being so constantly worried about getting it over for a strike. It tends to hurt me when I do get deep in the count.”
“He worked on it before his last start, unfortunately he wasn’t able to translate it as well,” Hurdle said. “A lot of effort was put in to just staying closed. He had been able to do that in shorter periods of time out of the bullpen. It just seemed in his last couple starts he wasn’t as consistent in keeping it closed and having that deception –especially with his fastball.”
With Jeff Karstens just a rehab start from returning to the rotation, Lincoln may just have one final chance today to prove that he can be a Major League starter. If not, Lincoln has dominant numbers to be a back-end guy in the bullpen. He’s posted a 0.45 ERA over 20.0 innings with 23 punchouts in relief this year.
– Today’s game is a 4:05 start due to a FOX Broadcast. Hurdle said there isnt’ really challenges at PNC Park due to the sun during that time in the day.
“We don’t believe it is because we’ve gone out when it first was brought to us at 4:05 and paid attention to the sun setting and the shadows,” Hurdle said. “It’s nothing like it is in St. Louis or some of the other venues we’ve been. We don’t anticipate those challenges.”
– The Pirates have gone 9-2 in games played on Saturday’s this season –including a 6-0 record at home. Pedro Alvarez is hitting .295 with 10 of his 13 home runs coming in day games.
– Pittsburgh’s 15-4 record at home since May 12 is the best in the Major Leagues and only the Dodgers (24) and Mets (23) have more home wins in the Majors this season.
– Pirates lineup: Presley 7, Tabata 9, McCutchen 8, Jones 3, Walker 4, Alvarez 5, Barajas 5, Barajas 2, Harrison 6, Lincoln 1
– Tigers lineup: Jackson 8, Boesch 9, Cabrera 5, Fielder 3, Yong 7, Avila 2, Peralta 6, Santiago 4, Scherzer 1