Tonight will be the first true test the Pirates will face against this Dodger rotation. After facing a Texas cast off in Nick Tepesch, tonight the Pirates will face rookie Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda. First pitch is set to be thrown at 7:15. in PNC Park.
The Dodgers took a calculated risk signing 27 year old Kenta Maeda this offseason as many projected him to be more of a back end starter. He signed an eight year, $25 million contract that did not include any opt out clauses. Though the annual salary is very minute in terms of guaranteed money, the contract comes with heavy performance incentives that can make the total contract worth over $100 million. It would appear that Maeda bet against himself in this deal and so far it is working out.
With much talk about Maeda being a back end starter, all he has done is pitch over 81 innings while recording an impressive 2.64 ERA and a 1.102 WHIP. His FIP sits at a 3.14, showing that this is pretty sustainable. Maeda doesn’t come with an overpowering fastball like Yu Darvish, but he does present a mix bag of pitches with great command to the likes of Masahiro Tanaka. His ERA ranks him 11th among all MLB pitchers and his 16.9 K/BB % ranks him 24th.
Pittsburgh will do its best to send out Jeff Locke tonight and pray. It’s been quite the season for Jeff Locke this year as he has looked like an Ace pitcher for stretches while also looking like a guy who would struggle in the Independent League. For the season, he holds a 5.44 ERA. He had a great stretch of starts before he tossed back to back games allowing 18 earned runs in just 8.2 total innings. After this implosion, he followed it up with a 6.2 inning shutout against the Giants where he allowed only five hits and no walks. Predicting what Locke will do tonight would be like trying to predict if Phil will see his shadow every February 2. With the offense looking to be awakening and the bullpen continuing to struggle, Jeff Locke will hold the key to this teams success tonight.
Tonight’s lineup will look very similar as last night’s lineup as Gregory Polanco is still not playing with an injured leg. Starling Marte will take his hot bat into the 2 hole while Matt Joyce will bat 5th and play RF. Josh Harrison will make his return tonight as he was given a much needed day of rest due to his June struggles.
- Jaso 1B
- Marte LF
- McCutchen CF
- Freese 3B
- Joyce RF
- Harrison 2B
- Mercer SS
- Kratz C
- Locke P