Scouting reports provided by MLB.com

Doug Davis vs. Kevin Correia

The Red Sox had the edge in Davis’ last start as he fell behind hitters. He served up eight hits and walked three over 3 2/3 innings. The good news is he’s healthy — just looking for that first “W.” Correia heads back on the road, where he is 5-1 with a 2.79 ERA. He’s finished at least six innings in eight of 10 starts and beat the Cubs in Chicago on Opening Day. Correia allowed two earned runs in six hits that day.

Randy Wells vs. Paul Maholm

This will be Wells’ first start since April 4. He’s been on the DL with a strained right forearm since then and has made two Minor League rehab starts. In his last outing, he threw 68 pitches over four innings. Ignore Maholm’s record because it has everything to do with run support. Maholm continues to be competitive each time he takes the mound, but the Pirates have scored just 13 runs in the 61 2/3 innings he has been on the mound.

Ryan Dempster vs. Jeff Karstens

Dempster posted his fourth quality start in his last five games against the Mets, giving up one run on seven hits over seven innings. He’s doing better at home, picking up back-to-back wins for the first time since July 15-Aug. 4, 2010. All questions about whether Karstens will stay in the rotation have ceased. In his best start yet, Karstens allowed the Tigers just three hits and one run in six innings on Friday. He retired the first 14 hitters and threw only 75 pitches.

Pat Lackey scouts the Pirates

Who’s hot:
Despite going one for his last nine, Andrew McCutchen has been tearing the cover off the ball lately. He’s on a .289/.379/.556 run since April 29th. Jose Tabata has heated up a bit lately as well, batting .325 in his last 12 games. The bullpen, especially Joel Hanrahan, Jose Veras, and Daniel McCutchen have all been excellent of late.

Who’s not:
There are still quite a few holes in the team’s offense right now. They’re having trouble filling in third base with Pedro Alvarez’s absence; Brandon Wood has been pretty terrible this year and Ronny Cedeno had a brief hot spot but remains Ronny Cedeno. The bench is incredibly thin right now, with Wood, Xavier Paul, and Matt Diaz all struggling mightily. Since the Pirates have quite a few platoon players (Garrett Jones and Lyle Overbay), the bench can be stretched pretty thin against lefties because Steve Pearce, the one guy on the bench that’s hit well, can only play one position.

News and notes:
Besides Alvarez being on the DL and Pedro Ciriaco being up in his place, the only other real transaction news of late is Evan Meek’s return from the disabled list. He’s only thrown one inning since coming back, but he did strike out all three hitters he faced. In general, the Pirates were playing very well in taking four straight against the Reds and Tigers, but the offense bottomed out over the weekend and they’ve now lost three straight and only scored two runs in doing so.

Prediction:
You know, the Pirates have played awfully well on the road except for places named Miller Park. Kevin Correia, tonight’s starter, has been particularly good away from PNC. Paul Maholm, Saturday’s starter, is due for some run support (he’s 1-7 despite a 3.65 ERA). I’ve got a good feeling about the Pirates this weekend, so I’m going to be a homer and pick the Pirates to take two out of three

Joe scouts the series

Here is my quick and dirty scouting report on what I’m looking for this series.

  • A quality start in two of the three games in the series – My guess is that it will be the Doug Davis start that prevents us from doing it in all three games, but if he can get the series started with a good outing, it takes a lot of pressure off of Wells to come back full force in his first start back.
  • Hitting with runners in scoring position – We got it done yesterday, so it can be done. This team is one of the better hitting teams, in terms of pure batting average, in the NL. It’s time to translate those hits into timely ones.
  • Give Paul Maholm another loss – He’s got seven so far this year and like the scouting report said, it’s due to run support. Let’s jump on him early to give him that feeling of “here we go again”. Then step on their throat, kick ‘em in the groin and get ready for either a series sweep or a series win.

I need to see at least two wins in this series and then a sweep of Houston. That would mean a 7-2 homestand and a team that took advantage of the winnable games. Let’s make it happen.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail