Game 102: Miller Park, Schmiller Park

After the Pirates lost their second game this weekend to the Brewers, they will look to salvage the series by pulling out a much needed victory today. Francisco Liriano will take the mound and face RHP Matt Garza. The contest will be held at 2:10 at Miller Park.

The Pirates absolutely hate playing at Miller Park. They have lost eight straight games in Milwaukee and since 2007 they hold a 17-63 record in Miller Park, good for a .212 winning percentage. It is absolutely phenomenal how bad the Pirates become when they enter this ball park. With Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy out of yesterday’s lineup and a well below average pitcher on the mound in Chase Anderson, Pittsburgh was still unable to earn a victory here.

Today the Pirates will give Liriano the call to try and get a salvage a victory today. Liriano will bring his well known struggles with him. Just when you thought he was finally putting things together in July, he came out a pitched a complete dud against the Mariners. In that game he gave up 7 earned runs in just 3.1 innings putting his ERA back over the 5 mark to exactly a 5.38. Though the organization can hope to believe this was a blip on the map towards his return to form, these type of performances have been more of the norm in 2016.

If depending on Liriano to get a victory in Miller Park isn’t nerve racking alone, Pittsburgh will once again put the struggling John Jaso into the leadoff spot today. As we mentioned yesterday, Jaso is batting .186/.286/.287 since June 16 and has no business being in the starting lineup at this time. With the trade deadline being Monday at 4 PM, we can only hope the Pirates will find a way to move him and begin the reign of Josh Bell being the Pirates first baseman. Regardless of his defense being under average, his bat plays and should make up for the inefficiencies of the glove unlike the former Pedro Alvarez. I firmly believe that is the difference in this situation. Pedro had a horrible glove, but his offense was also not enough to overcome that. We can only hope that Bell’s bat would truly outweigh his defense.

Starling Marte went 2 for 3 yesterday while drawing a walk for the third time in the past four games. His .323 average on the year is good for 7th best in all of MLB, but it is his patience and pitch recognition that has been impressing me lately. Earlier in the season, Marte was swinging at almost everything. Sure, he was still hitting for a great average, but was also striking out a solid number of times. For the month of April, Marte drew a total of 3 walks while striking out 22 times. Then came May where He actually only walked 2 times compared to striking out 23 times. In the month of July, Marte has looked much better at the plate and has actually drawn 9 walks, while striking out just 16 times.

We at the NS9 predicted a breakout season for Marte, which he has certainly done, but it appears quite possible that Marte could be taking his game even a step further right now. Marte has relied so much on his hit tool and speed to get on base, and then from there use the speed to take a base. For the month of July, Marte has found his OBP% increase to a .400 clip, which has allowed him to run wild on the base paths. By him finding a new approach at the plate and allowing him to get on base by way of BB, he was able to steal a total of 15 bases so far in this month, while stealing just 21 in the three total months previously. Mind you, this month also saw a break in action due to the All Star break.

With that said, Matt Garza will take the mound for just the 8th time this season. He holds a 5.74 ERA which in part is due to the amount of hits he is giving up. Currently, he has a 11.9 hits per 9 rate. Diminishing velocity and effectiveness to his secondary offerings have contributed to the demise of this once highly touted starting pitcher. Sure, I would love to say that this is a pitcher the Buccos can capitalize on, but we are playing in Miller Park and Garza will likely look like the second coming of Pedro Martinez.

For the second straight game, Jonathan Lucroy will be held out of the lineup. Though he was on the verge to first place Cleveland, Lucroy vetoed the trade to opt and stay in the fabulous city of Milwaukee. Ryan Braun also finds himself still on the shelf in the meantime, leaving a lot of underwhelming players in today’s Brewers lineup. Good luck, Pittsburgh!

Pirates Lineup:

  1. John Jaso 1B
  2. Gregory Polanco RF
  3. Andrew McCutchen CF
  4. Starling Marte LF
  5. David Freese 3B
  6. Josh Harrison 2B
  7. Jordy Mercer SS
  8. Eric Fryer C
  9. Francisco Liriano P


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