After taking three games out of four from the Nationals, the Pirates will head to Miami for a three game weekend set with the Marlins. The Marlins are currently sitting in last place in the N.L., but they took three of four from the Rockies in their most recent series, so they’ll look to carry some momentum over from that series when they take on the Pirates in Miami.
Game One: Jeff Locke (9-2, 2.11) Vs. Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 3.28): Locke has continued to dominate, despite all expectations that he would regress some as the season continues on. He hasn’t given up more than three earned runs since April eighteenth. Alvarez is a young buck, at only twenty-three years old, he’s already spent a full season in the big leagues, in 2012. This year he’s had four starts, his most recent one was a gem against Milwaukee, when he went seven innings, gave up no runs, on five hits.
Game Two: Charlie Morton (2-2, 3.35) Vs. Tom Koehler (2-5, 4.38): Morton has done well in each of his last two starts, after a somewhat lackluster beginning to his season. While his record sits at 2-2, the Pirates have won five of his seven starts on the year. Koehler is a younger pitcher for the Marlins, who’s not had a lot of success in the league so far, but his most recent start was a gem against the Rockies, where he gave up only one run, on eight hits, over seven innings of work.
Game Three: Gerrit Cole (5-3, 3.51) Vs. Jose Fernandez (6-5, 2.74): This is going to be the best matchup of the series, when the Pirates most exciting young pitcher will square off with the Marlins best pitcher. Cole had arguably his best outing of the season in his last game against the Nationals, when he went seven innings, gave up one run, on only two hits. Fernandez is an All-Star this year, one of the lone bright spots on a Marlins team that has floundered this year. He’s won each of his last two starts, and hasn’t given up more than three earned runs since May 27th.
*All pitchers listed are probable
Pirates Players To Watch:
Starling Marte: The Marte Partay has been on hold over the last week. Since July twentieth, Marte only has one hit, over twenty-four at bats. The Pirates need Marte to get back to producing out of the leadoff spot, to set the table for hot hitters like Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez.
Mark Melancon: Melancon has been nothing short of spectacular this season, but now that he’s moving into the ninth inning role will any of that change? He didn’t have any trouble in Washington D.C., so hopefully he’ll continue dominating as the Pirates move on to the Marlins.
Pedro Alvarez: After a lackluster performance directly following the All-Star break, Pedro Alvarez has a nice little four game hitting streak going coming into the Marlins series, and is looking comfortable at the plate again. Pedro’s power has the ability to change a game at any time, and he’s squaring up the ball well the last few days.
Marlins Players To Watch:
Jose Fernandez: As we mentioned earlier, Fernandez has been one of a very few bright spots for the Miami Marlins this season. He’s an All-Star pitcher, who has a great career in front of him, at only twenty years old. Pirates fans should appreciate the matchup between him and Gerrit Cole, as a showcase of some of the best young pitching talent in the N.L.
Giancarlo Stanton: Stanton is having the worst statistical season of his career so far, hitting .240/.350/.452, with only eleven home runs on the year. He’s played only fifty-eight games of the 100 the Marlins have played so far. The Pirates will hope to keep him from doing any substantial damage during this series.
Justin Ruggiano: Ruggiano has had a rough July. How rough? He hasn’t had a hit since July eighth. He’s reportedly on the trading block, so the Marlins would certainly hope he improves his stock over their last full series before the deadline.
This will be the first meeting between the Pirates and Marlins in 2013, but they will clash again for another three game series at PNC Park, August sixth-eighth.