Game 124: Afternoon Rubber Match

The Pirates and Astros will play the rubber match of their three-game series this afternoon at PNC Park. The Pirates could use a series win especially with a roadtrip to Miller Park and Wrigley Field quickly approaching.

The Pirates have their main man Gerrit Cole on the mound today as they go for the series win. Cole had a 2.73 ERA on August 2, but his last three starts have been troubling as he’s seen his ERA rise to 3.30. He posted a 6.48 ERA in those three starts, including giving up 24 hits in the past two games. That can’t continue for the Bucs if they have any plans for a postseason appearance. Cole will get a chance to turn it around against a team he’s never faced before in the Astros. The only two active batters he’s pitched to are Evan Gattis and Jake Marisnick and only Gattis is in the lineup this afternoon. Let’s hope the good Cole shows up and the one that posted a 2.84 ERA in July.

The Astros will roll out RHP Collin McHugh, who is at-best a mediocre pitcher. He comes into today’s game with a 4.99 ERA (4.19 FIP) in 137 innings of work. He’s given up 169 hits in those 137 innings, including 22 home runs. He can rack up the strikeouts too, averaging exactly 9.0 K/9. I won’t make any grand predictions about how the Bucs should be able to hit McHugh around the ballyard because we’ve seen the Pirates struggle with mediocre pitchers before numerous times.

As for the lineup today, Andrew McCutchen gets the day off as Marte starts in center and will bat third. Matt Joyce makes his second straight start after recording two hits last night and Rodriguez makes just his 5th start of the season at third base.

Pirates North Shore Nine
Harrison 2B
Joyce RF
Marte CF
Polanco LF
Bell 1B
Cervelli C
Rodriguez 3B
Mercer SS
Cole P

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