The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t been on top of the NL Central since last July. Oh, what a time that was, the city was abuzz and slowly that feeling is returning. Should the Pirates win another series in Milwaukee, the bandwagon will roll into the month of May.
It won’t be easy. The Brewers have another winning streak going against the Bucs–it’s now up to eight straight.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the Brew Crew sends Yovani Gallardo to the mound (somehow) and the Pirates send Wandy Rodriguez. The Brewers feast on left handed pitching. The Bucs struggle tremendously against Gallardo to the tune of 13 losses in games he’s started with Gallardo chalking up a 9-1 record in those games and holding the Buccos to a 2.35 ERA in those outings.
The Russell Martin pickup looked like a unicorn at the beginning of the season when he got off to a slow start. Everyone focused on the hard to explain topics of his .211 average, and all the specifics about his pitch framing abilities. Now Martin is white hot and should fare well in hitter-friendly Milwaukee because he comes in with five homers and four doubles in the Pirates last ten. Matin also has a .500 OBP in those games.
Wandy started strong giving up just one earned in first three outings. But when you look inside the numbers, it’s scary–3.62 xFIP, the most contact he’s had in his career, a .200 BABIP, and being so middle-middle. As we’ve wrote about before, the strikeouts are vanishing quickly (unless your the opposing pitcher–our pick: Gallardo whiffs twice tonight), the Phillies took him deep, but he battled in the cold weather and as Hurdle said–he gave the team what it needed.
It concerns me that everyone’s favorite Brewer, Ryan Braun clubs at a 359 clip against Wanderful. In just 39 at-bats against the southpaw, Braun has four bombs. Yet somehow, Rodriguez has given up just over two-and-a-half runs a game in his last three starts with Milwaukee.
Avoid Braun. Avoid Braun. Avoid Braun.
Be patient against Gallardo. Be patient against Gallardo. The Brewers starter has had so much success because recent Pirates teams haven’t battled, haven’t extended at-bats like this team has. The Bucs are making the opposing pitchers work. They are creating mistakes.
The Pirates are 14-5 in their last 19 games since losing a season-high four straight games. During the 19-game stretch Pittsburgh has outscored its opponents 98-88.
The Brewers have lost three of their last four and struggled mightily against Clayton Kershaw yesterday. Let’s trust Wandy can channel his inner-Kershaw.