Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rangers at Pirates, 7:05 PM

The Pirates will go for the sweep tonight against the Rangers, as Tom Gorzelanny (2.76 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) faces off against Kameron Loe (7.40 ERA, 1.68 WHIP), who will be recalled from Triple-A to make the start. This is another huge mismatch on the mound, as the Rangers send out another starter who has been awful so far this season.

Jose Castillo has had a hop in his step the past three games - Matt Freed, Post-Gazette

I would expect to see Jose Castillo back at short for the Pirates, as he had another solid game at the plate last night. To be honest, the Pirates may have been extremely smart with the way they handled Castillo this season. He was the obvious starter for three seasons, but his great potential never progressed into performance. Maybe this was due to a lack of motivation, as the starting spot at second was clearly his. Maybe not. But the Pirates sent a message by mostly sitting him late last season and then keeping him on the bench for the first two months of 2007. Jose had to be sitting there, watching the team play, wondering if he would ever get back on the field. Then he gets a spot start at short and plays well, including a brilliant defensive play. Then he is in the lineup again the next game. And the next. Now Castillo sees that if he performs, he will get the opportunity to play. He has clearly recognized that, and he is playing with the fire and emotion that was so often missing last season. This is not the first time he has displayed that emotion this year, as I noted it during a start he made about a month ago. Castillo is playing as if he understands that it is a privilege to start in the Major Leagues, and he seems to have a greater appreciation for this opportunity to play than he had in his first three seasons in the league.

Then again, it has only been three games. Hopefully he can continue to produce in the long-term.

UPDATE (6:10 PM): The Pirates have sent Shawn Chacon back to the bullpen and will recall John Van Benschoten to start on Saturday. I'm not sure if this was done to stabilize the bullpen or because Chacon was shelled in New York. Either way, we will see what Van Benschoten can do in the Major League rotation. It makes me nervous. He was 6-4 at Indianapolis with a 2.73 ERA and a WHIP of 1.35. He struck out 45 and walked 30.

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