MetsBlog and SNY.TV intern Steve Hirsch has brought back the out-of-town Q&A at the start of each new series to learn about the opposition from local reporters and bloggers.
This week, Hirsch talks with Pirates blogger Charlie Wilmoth from Bucs Dugout as the Mets begin a three-game series with the Pirates on Friday night at PNC Park:
Hirsch: The Pirates have their own version of Matt Harvey in LHP Jeff Locke (8-2, 2.15 ERA). If you’re a hitter in the Mets lineup, what’s the thing you’re most paying attention to when it comes to facing Locke?
Wilmoth: Jeff Locke isn’t Matt Harvey any more than those watches you buy on the street in Times Square are actually Rolexes. He’s a generic lefty back-end starter who has gotten a lot of help from the Pirates’ defense, and from luck. He’s a useful pitcher, but there’s no reason for Mets hitters to be intimidated by him.
Hirsch: In the past several years, the Pirates have gotten off to a great start and have faded away, to say the least, in the second half. Is this team doing anything noticeably different from prior years that will help them maintain their concentration and play winning baseball throughout the duration of the season?
Wilmoth: That’s something we may hear more about next month. My inclination is to dismiss the collapses primarily as the result of variance, but that’s hard to completely believe when you’re actually watching them and losses seem inevitable. The Pirates have been playing over their heads this year and are unlikely to maintain their current pace — you can see my answer to the first question as a prime example of why. But they’re also a much more talented team than either of the last two editions, so I think their landing will be somewhat softer this year.