Checking in from the Steel City

PITTSBURGH - Hello from the Steel City, where the Nationals will spend their next four days before heading right back to D.C. again for a lengthy homestand.

Pittsburgh doesn't necessarily have a great reputation as a travel city, but I kind of like it here. The downtown area by the bridges is gorgeous when the weather is nice (it makes for a solid area to go for a jog, if I can force myself to do so) and I really enjoy PNC Park.

The press box is pretty high up, but the sight lines are spectacular. I'll post a picture later on today to give those of you who haven't been here before an idea of what I'm talking about.

The Pirates have gotten off to a surprisingly slow start to the season, sitting at 19-26, eight games back of the Brewers in the National League Central.

They rank middle of the pack in most offensive categories, are 18th in team ERA and 22nd in fielding percentage.

Their starting pitching has been a bit of a disappointment to this point, and outside of Andrew McCutchen and some surprise power from Neil Walker, none of their position players have done a whole lot early on.

Ike Davis has quietly had some decent numbers for Pittsburgh since coming over in a trade with the Mets, however, hitting .286/.388/.429 on the season.

McCutchen is clearly the guy the Nats need to stop in this series, at all costs. He's absolutely crushed Nationals pitching in his career, posting ridiculous numbers in his 30 games against the Nats.

Check out this stat line in those 30 games: .395/.458/.825 (that's a 1.283 OPS) with 13 homers and 15 walks in 131 plate appearances.

Just unreal.

He's been heating up this month, as well, hitting .364 with a .476 on-base percentage over his last 18 games.

Don't pitch to him, as far as I'm concerned.

Blake Treinen will get the ball for the Nats today, just up from Triple-A Syracuse. Treinen hasn't officially been added to the roster yet, but he was announced a couple days ago as the guy who would slide into Gio Gonzalez's rotation spot while the left-hander is on the DL with left shoulder inflammation.

Reliever Ryan Mattheus will be optioned back to Syracuse to make room for Treinen on the active roster.

Treinen made his first big league start for the Nats a little over two weeks ago, allowing three unearned runs on seven hits over five solid innings against the Dodgers.

He made a fielding error in the fifth inning that night, a play that led to a big inning for the Dodgers, and got the loss. But against a really dangerous offensive team, Treinen competed, and he'll get at least another couple big league starts with Gonzalez on the DL for the time being.

While back at Syracuse after the outing against the Dodgers, Treinen made two starts, getting the win in both. He allowed one run on four hits over six innings on May 11, then gave up two runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 frames six days ago in a win over Toledo.

His strikeout-to-walk ratio in those two starts combined: 8-to-0.

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