Friday, August 24, 2007

Phelps powers Pirates

Josh Phelps owns the Rockies - AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

Josh Phelps is a robot. A robot that hits baseballs well. Phelps went 4 for 5 with two doubles and three RBI's yesterday, as the Pirates beat the Rockies, 5-1. Since joining the Pirates, he is now hitting a whopping .432/.519/.818, despite being used mostly as a pinch-hitter and making just eight starts. And yet, the Pirates have struggled to get him on the field. Phelps' ideal position is first base, and Adam LaRoche is set as the starter there. The Pirates stayed with LaRoche through a miserable first half, and they are not going to put him on the bench now (he is hitting .335/.398/.553 since the beginning of July and .349/.415/.578 in August). Phelps' bat would be a huge upgrade over Ronny Paulino at catcher, but the Pirates are not sold on his defense behind the plate. Phelps, to his credit, seems to have embraced his role as a power bat coming off the bench.

Paul Maholm pitched well, continuing his strong season. Maholm needed just 89 pitches (58 strikes) to cruise through seven innings, allowing only one run. After fighting through an up and down first two months, Maholm is 8-7 with a 3.77 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 58/29 K/BB ratio, and 0.63 HR/9 since June 1. His strong season has made it a bit easier to stomach the disappointing fall of Zach Duke this year.

Matt Capps has had very few save opportunities in the second half, and many people probably have not realized how dominant he has been this year. He now has a 2.25 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 48/12 K/BB ratio, and 0.56 HR/9. Those are phenomenal numbers. Yesterday, in a non-save situation, Capps effortlessly retired the side on 14 pitches (11 strikes). He struck out two. He has been doing it all year.

The Pirates took three of four from the Rockies, who are battling for a possible postseason berth. Now it is off to Houston for a three-game series. I will be out of town for the weekend, so there will be no updates here. See everyone on Monday.

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