After a promising start to the season, it has been a very cold stretch for Pittsburgh. For an entire week, it’s been the same story. People being stranded on base and the bullpen imploding has been the two issues so far. You cannot say the offense isn’t there, as the Pirates have averaged just under 14 baserunners per game. Pittsburgh ranks 3rd in hits and 2nd in on base percentage in all of baseball, however, they are just 13th in runs. Their relievers rank 26th in MLB in total ERA with a 5.49. This trend is not going to net you wins, though it may be safe to say that the law of averages should come back down to earth and more runs will go on the board.
The Pirates will hope to turn around this stretch of luck today vs the Brewers. Jonathon Niese will take the mound for the third time this season. Coming off of a win vs. Detroit, Niese carries a 5.73 ERA into the game. The key for Niese will be to keep the ball down and prevent them from leaving the ball park. He has already given up three homers in just 11 innings pitched. Milwaukee is in a rebuilding phase, but as demonstrated last night, they can still get the long ball when needed.
Tonight will also feature the lineup that has been used in almost every game this season. Pittsburgh has a team has a .282 average, but has not provided a solid punch of power. Though they have just four home runs on the season, its not via a lack of effort. Countless times they have hit out to the warning track. John Jaso and Starling Marte come into this game hot, as they have averages of .341 and .343. Jaso has collected a hit in all but one game, while Marte has had multi hit games in all but four this season.
The Pirates have notoriously struggled against the Brewers for awhile now. Since 2010, Pittsburgh is 40-66 when facing the Brewers. Tonight’s starter for the Brewers will be Tyler Jungmann. In his short career, Jungmann has also been very success when pitching against the Pirates. In just 26 innings, he’s gone 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA. His season start hasn’t been as optimal, as he holds an 11.57 ERA, but Jungmann should come into this game confident and provide fits for batters. Pittsburgh is going to have to manage to manufacture runs in tonight contest if they want to get back to .500 baseball.