Pittsburgh will continue its west coast trip in Oakland this weekend as they face a three game series against the A’s. Pittsburgh (38-41) is coming off of a two game series split against Seattle, while Oakland (35-44) is fresh off of a four game series against the Giants that saw them take three games. Tonight the two teams battle in the Oakland Coliseum at 10:05 PM.
The Pirates find themselves on the outside looking in for the wild card hunt. Currently, they are 3.5 games back in the wild card standings and coming off of a 9-19 June. With all of the compounded injuries and pitching struggles, it is going to take a lot of work to try and right the ship. Tonight might not make it any better with Jeff Locke on the road.
Locke has had an up and down season, but there isn’t any more disparity than seeing his home and away splits. Sure he has a 5.12 ERA and 7 wins, which is spot on parallel for his splits. When he is at home, Locke owns a5-1 record with a 2.96 ERA in 45.2 innings of work. However when he pitches on the road, Locke has managed a whopping 2-4 record with a 7.36 ERA in 44 innings. It is amazing how night and day he has been this year. Tonight, Locke will be on the road, so it is probably safe to assume a blow up to happen.
On the other side, Sonny Gray will be taking the mound for the A’s and owns a 3-6 record and a 5.03 ERA. There isn’t much of a difference between these two pitchers on the season ERA, however Gray has had a solid bounce back and to the season and spun off 30 innings in June of 3.23 ERA baseball. Last year’s All-Star and 3rd place Cy Young candidate is returning to form at no worse of a time for Pittsburgh. Gray is a roundball inducing pitcher sending 54% of the balls into the dirt this season, but he has also seen a spike in the home runs he allows. This season he is allowing 1.26 homers for every 9 innings pitched which is a 50% increase. This rate ranks him 41st worse pitcher in all of baseball among starters with at least 70 innings. For perspective, home run prone, Dan Straily, is ranked 57th worst and he pitches in Great American Ball Park whereas Gray is in the friendly Coliseum.
Both offenses right now are right about equal in production. Pittsburgh has a solid edge in terms of OBP%, but for average and slugging they are about the same. Kang will be sitting out of tonight’s game again so we will see David Freese back in action. Freese had three hits including a home run in the two game series verse the Mariners and comes into this game with a season split of .287/.361/.448, which are all bests since his 2012 season with the Cardinals. Matt Joyce will handle the DH duties and as we all know, he’s killing it!
- Jaso 1B
- Polanco RF
- McCutchen CF
- Marte LF
- Freese 3B
- Joyce DH
- Harrison 2B
- Mercer SS
- Stewart C