The rivalry just got real this weekend. The 32-28 Pirates are set to host the 32-28 Cardinals this weekend for a three game series in PNC Park. Both teams are tied for second in the N.L. Central but also 10 games back from the league leading, Chicago Cubs. Tonight, the game is set to start at 7:05.
The Pirates currently hold a slight edge in this rivalry since 2013 with a 32-31 record verse the Cards. Unfortunately, as we all are aware, they have ended behind the Cardinals each year in the standings still and unable to achieve a pennant in either of those years. 2016 brings a new year where the Pirates still hold a lead in the matchup (5-1) but both teams are actually trailing the Cubs at a pretty far distance.
Tonights starter for Pittsburgh will be Gerrit Cole. Cole is coming off of back to back starts where he allowed three runs and didn’t make it through the 7th inning. Even at that, his ERA sits at a solid 2.85 as he has logged 66 innings and 52 strikeouts. For his career, he is 5-3 in 9 starts against St. Louis.
Michael Wacha will be the pitcher taking the mound tonight for the opposing team. Wacha actually enters this game with a career worst 5.16 ERA. It would appear that these numbers are somewhat very unlucky as his peripherals are very much on par for his career stats. His K rate, walk rate, HR’s, velocity, and FIP linger right around his career marks. What is egregiously out of line is his BABIP of .343 against. For his career he owns a .288 BABIP which strongly suggests that his numbers will start to normalize and we should see the solid pitcher of Micheal Wacha soon who holds a 28-20 record with a career 3.52 ERA.
Pittsburgh is making sure they have all hands on deck to ensure Cole gets all the necessary run support to earn a game one win for this series. Even as mentioned on the debut NSN Podcast it appears wise to place Andrew McCutchen back in the 3 hole while Gregory Polanco mans third, but we will not be seeing that today. Pittsburgh still seems set to have Cutch bat second while he is putting up career lows and owns just a .251 batting average and .335 on base percentage. If batting McCutchen second was so ensure our best hitter is getting the most at bats for the year and not being up to the plate with 2 outs and nobody on, then they are utilizing the wrong player for that spot. Meanwhile, el coffee is batting .302 with a .381 on base percentage with nine homers and a league leading 21 doubles.
Pittsburgh has found solid success verse Wacha for his career as well as they forced him to a 4.02 ERA in 9 games. With the breakouts of Polanco and Starling Marte, this offense has actually become even greater than those years previously pitched by Wacha. The player with the most success just so happens to be Andrew McCutchen as he has hit .545 in 22 at bats with four extra base hits. If he can get it going, then Polanco can take his .412 average in 17 at bats and really get this offense going early. The only player who hasn’t seen much success is Josh Harrison who has one hit in 11 at bats.
- Jaso 1B
- McCutchen CF
- Polanco RF
- Kang 3B
- Marte LF
- Cervelli C
- Harrison 2B
- Mercer SS
- Cole P