Game 42: Pirates vs. Rockies

Today, at 4:05 PM at PNC Park, the Pirates will host the Rockies for their second game of the weekend series. Pittsburgh (23-18) defeated the Rockies (20-21) last night behind a less than stellar performance by Gerrit Cole. Cole went 7 innings, giving up 10 hits and striking out 0. He was the first pitcher to do such a thing since Bill Wegman did it for the Brewers in 1992.

For today’s game, the Pirates will have Jon Niese take the mound as he looks to build upon his back to back quality starts. For the season, Niese holds a 5.28 ERA and has not played the part of a solid middle of the rotation innings eater. His peripherals don’t seem too far off of his career marks, though he is walking more people and allowing a ton of home runs. The long ball has been the achilles heal to Niese’s season, and facing the Rockies again this year isn’t typically the best medicine to get back on track. The last time Niese faced the Rockies he allowed five earned runs in 5 innings and allowed two home runs. This was at Coors though, so hopefully playing this game in PNC will surely help.

The Rockies will have their best pitcher facing the Pirates lineup today in Tyler Chatwood. He is currently 5-3 with a 3.20 ERA. Off to a great start to 2016, Chatwood has seen his ERA raise an entire point over the past two starts. It would appear as if he is coming back to reality and in line with his career marks and is current FIP of a 4.18.

Starling Marte returned to the lineup last night and didn’t miss a beat. He went 2-4 with a double and showed off his cannon with a 100 MPH bullet to home plate to throw out Dustin Garneau. For the season, Marte is batting a remarkable .329 and now has six outfield assists already on the season.

The team lineup is still tearing it up in the National League and holds its reign as the top hitting team with a batting average of .280. Also, for the lack of power everybody has stated this team would lose without Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker, the Pirates are ranked third in home runs (32) behind the Mets (35) and Cardinals (33) over the last 30 days. The return of Jung Ho Kang and the power surge of Gregory Polanco have certainly help aid in the in that department.

Today, Andrew McCutchen will get his second game off of the season. To date, he is batting  just .248 but does own a .804 OPS. That will force Starling Marte to slide to center and Gregory Polanco will handle left field duties. Taking Cutch’s spot will be Matt Joyce in right field. Joyce has been an excellent addition to the team when he signed for just a minor league contract in spring. Currently, he is hitting .353 with five home runs and getting on base 48.4% of the time in just 51 at bats. With Joyce in the lineup, there are currently five players in the lineup batting over .300.

Pirates Lineup:

  1. Jaso 1B
  2. Marte CF
  3. Polanco LF
  4. Kang 3B
  5. Cervelli C
  6. Joyce RF
  7. Harrison 2B
  8. Mercer SS
  9. Niese P