Tonight’s game marks exactly 30 games left of the season. What is the significance of this? Well the Pirates are currently in a playoff race and are 2 1/2 game behind St. Louis for the final Wild Card spot. With 30 days remaining, they must find a way to overtake the Cardinals if they want to play any significant games after October 2.
When you look back at the previous 30 game span, the Pirates trailed the Cardinals by 3 games. Therefore in the last 30 games Pittsburgh has only been able to make up a half of a game. The argument of it being a long season holds true throughout most of the season. A game in April doesn’t hold as much significance as it does later in the season depending on where you are in the standings. However, this is now September. If you felt comfortable in the way this team has played since August 1, then that is no longer good enough to overtake St. Louis.
After the Pirates dropping a game they easily could have had yesterday, they find themselves luckily in the same position before the game took place. With nothing hurt, there was also nothing gained. Tonight, Pittsburgh is in need to pull out all the stops to try and find a victory with Ivan Nova on the mound facing Jimmy Nelson.
Nova, who was acquired at the deadline where the Pirates and Yankees finalized the deal as written here: How The Ivan Nova Deal Stacks Up, will make his sixth start for the Black and Gold. Since his debut with Pittsburgh, Nova has gone 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA with a .989 WHIP. You could easily say he has been one of our two best pitchers since the acquisition and his services will be most needed tonight. In his last start he faced Milwaukee for the first time in his career. In that start, he lasted 6 innings allowing just one run on three hits and no walks. As hyped about Taillon’s walk rate, Nova has allowed just ONE walk in 31.1 innings with the Pirates.
As for the Brewers, they will have Jimmy Nelson take the mound tonight to try and take this series from the Pirates. The 27 year old Nelson, who owns a season ERA of 4.45, has faced us twice this season. In his last start against us, which was his last actual start, he found no success. Pittsburgh was able to get to him quick and score six runs in 3.2 innings. He gave up seven hits and three walks while striking out just one.
With last night’s loss, Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte each collected multiple hits. It’s been well documented how Cutch’s season has turned since the Atlanta benching and since then he’s batted .299/.404/.443 with a 1/1 K/BB rate.
Starling Marte, on the other hand, tells a much different story since that series. Marte has hit .265/.292/.373 since the Altanla series, but has heated up recently. Over his last 5 games he has collected 9 hits while batting .409. Also, he has hit two doubles, a home run, and has stolen three bases.
On August 20, Josh Bell was recalled by the Pirates. With Jung Ho Kang placed on the DL, Bell was destined for plenty of at bats during this time. Since his call though, Bell has hit just .243 but does sport a .370 on base percentage. Bell has gotten unlucky on some hits and called strikes, but his plate discipline and approach has shown why he could be a future star in the Burgh. He’s backed that statement up by waking 10 times while just striking out four in 50 plate appearances.