It’s the first day of October and the Pirates and Cardinals enter today’s game in the same situation as last night’s game—with the Cardinals one game behind the Giants in the wildcard picture and the Pirates with a chance to play spoiler. The Cardinals can be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss and a Giants victory today. First pitch is set for 1:05PM from Busch Stadium.
Chad Kuhl will make his final start of his rookie season, his 14th start of his career and second against the Cardinals. Kuhl has been up-and-down, but for the most part he’s giving the Pirates a chance to win in most of his starts. In fact, the Pirates are 9-4 in games started by Kuhl. The righthander from Delaware is 5-4 with a 4.25 ERA (4.49 xFIP) in 65.2 innings of work this season. Adding in his minor league innings this year in which he dominated Triple-A, Kuhl is right at 149.1 innings and will hit the 150-inning mark today. Kuhl is not a big strikeout guy (6.5 K/9), but gets a lot of his outs via the groundball thanks to a nice 45.8% groundball percentage. Kuhl doesn’t wow anyone, but I think he’s set himself up to be a lock in the Pirates rotation next year as the No. 3 or 4.
Michael Wacha gets the start today for St. Louis. It’s his first start since August 8 as he’s been garbage for most of the year and dealt with injuries on and off this season. Hopefully the Pirates will find more production off of Wacha than they did last night against Carlos Martinez.
The Pirates lineup is an interesting one. Andrew McCutchen gets the day off as Sean Rodriguez, who’s been a monster in September, bats third and starts at shortstop. Alen Hanson gets his third straight start as the Bucs want to see if he could be the guy to take of second base next season. Jacob Stallings gets the start today behind the plate and Josh Bell gets another start in RF. I’ll admit that I’m surprised Bell continues to get starts in the outfield considering he doesn’t figure to get much time there next season when Cutch/Polanco/Marte are healthy and he needs all the work at first base he can get. At this point, I think it’s just a way to get Bell, Jaso and Kang all into the lineup since Marte is injured.
Pirates North Shore Nine