Braves (13-3) at Pirates (8-8)
7:05 PM–PNC Park, Pittsburgh
The Bucs go for two in a row against the Braves tonight at PNC. It’s Andrew McCutchen bobblehead night, so there should be a solid crowd (which is good, since there haven’t been any good crowds since the opener). A win would clinch a series split for the Bucs, which would be a very strong result for them this weekend against baseball’s hottest team.
Paul Maholm (3-0, 0.00) vs. James McDonald (1-2, 5.27)
What’s gotten in to Paul Maholm??? Everybody’s favorite Bucco lefty (in the pre-Wandy Rodriguez era, at least) has been incredible for the Braves so far this year–as you can see, he hasn’t allowed a single run. Paul has improved since leaving Pittsburgh (shocker, I know) and was very solid for the Braves last year after coming over from the Cubs at the trade deadline. He faced the Pirates three times last year and went 1-1, but pitched pretty well in all three outings.
This is a dangerous start for McDonald, and if it goes anything like the last one he could (well, should) wind up out of the rotation. His velocity was down and he had no location of either pitch as the Cardinals just destroyed him in his previous start. He’s going up against another great lineup today so it’s going to be tough for him to recover if he doesn’t find his control (and hopefully some additional MPH on the fastball as well).
Bucs vs. Maholm: Clint Barmes has incredible career numbers against Paul.
Braves vs. J-Mac: Nothing too interesting here.