The next series is one that the Pittsburgh Pirates should be able to win. It is at home, against a non division team. And the opponent, San Diego, is near the bottom of Western Division. We're not talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers (yet).
More specifically, the Padres is one of two teams whose batting is worse than the Pirates'. Typical of San Diego's problems is a former Pirate slugger named Brian Giles. That means that pitcher matchups will be crucial to the Pittsbrugh's success.
Here, the Padres have a slight advantage on paper for the season. That is until you take into account that the Padres are away, and the Pirates are at home. So the relevant matchups are the Padres' road ERAs against Pirates' home ERAs.
Based on overall ERAs, Tim Stauffer has it all over Charlie Morton tonight. But Morton has an ERA of just over 3.00 at home, better than Stauffer's overall ERA, which in turn is better than his road ERA of 3.70.
Tomorrow, Ross Ohlendorf has a better ERA than Clayton Richard's in any event, but his home ERA is about 2.75. Richard's road ERA is double that.
Sunday, Kevin Correia is just a bit better pitcher than Paul Maholm overall. But Maholm's home ERA is about 3.50, and Correia's road ERA is a point and a half higher.
The only pitching matchup advantageous to San Diego will be on Monday, where Wade LeBlanc's road ERA is actually better than Dan McCutchen's home ERA. It may be up to the better Pirate batters to pull this one out of the fire.
The Pirates won two out of three last spring, in Petco Park. They should do better than this, or 3-1, with the home court advantage. And a sweep is not out of the question.