Coming off of two consecutive series wins, the Pirates will play host to the Marlins for a three game set this week. The Marlins come to town having dropped each of their last two series (series losses to the Mets and Indians). The Pirates and Marlins come into this series as teams in very different positions, one as the best in the N.L. in the thick of a pennant race, and the other dead last in the league, already all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
Game One: Henderson Alvarez (2-1, 2.67) Vs. Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.36): When Locke and Alvarez last squared off, the Marlins won, on an Alvarez gem. He went six innings, and only gave up two hits to the Pirates, and no runs. Locke was good as well, but had the misfortune of not receiving any kind of support, and lacked some control (he walked six), he went 6.2 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits. Locke has been knocked around in his last two starts, and he will look to use this start to right the ship.
Game Two: Tom Koehler (3-6, 4.34) Vs. Charlie Morton (3-3, 4.07): Koehler’s last and only start against the Pirates ended with him taking a loss, in a 4-7 game in Miami, where the Pirates knocked him around a bit. He’s won two of his last three starts, giving up only one earned run in those two wins. Charlie Morton had a rough time his last time out, giving up 5 runs on ten hits over six innings of work against St. Louis. He’s 3-3 with an ERA of 5.11 over his career against Miami.
Game Three: Jose Fernandez (8-5, 2.54) Vs. Gerrit Cole (5-5, 3.69): The last time these two pitchers got together, it was a great battle of high quality young pitchers who both have incredible futures ahead of them. Fernandez twirled eight innings, giving up only two runs on five hits. Cole went a strong seven, giving up three runs on four hits.Fernandez has won three consecutive starts, while Cole is coming off of a short and underwhelming start against Colorado.
*All starters listed are probable
Marlins Players To Watch:
Placido Polanco: Polanco is one of the Marlins leaders in batting average at .257, and over the last four weeks he’s batting .343 with seven RBI. Over his career against the Pirates, he’s hit .288/.340/.345, with similar numbers at PNC Park.
Logan Morrison: Morrison is one of the Marlins top performers over his career against the Pirates, with a triple slash of .328/.408/.522, and he hits even better at PNC Park, at .344/.417/.563.
Giancarlo Stanton: Stanton loves playing against the Pirates, hitting .357/.463/.643 over seventeen career games against the Bucs. He hasn’t done as well when playing in Pittsburgh though, posting .188/.278/.188 over five career matchups in the Steel City.
Pirates Players To Watch:
Russell Martin: Martin is on fire over the last week, batting .364/.417/.636, and he hasn’t exactly fared poorly against the Marlins over his career, hitting .315/.431/.519.
Starling Marte: After an extended funk, Marte started to break out of it over the Cardinals and Rockies series, over the last week he hit .333/.400/.444. In the series against Miami this year, he was 3-13 with a double and a stolen base. The Pirates need consistent production from Marte to keep winning, so hopefully he’s returned back to form after an earlier funk.
Pedro Alvarez: Alvarez has been a little cooler over the last week, hitting .214 with five strikeouts over fourteen at bats, and over the last two weeks, he’s hitting .222 with seventeen strikeouts over forty-five at bats. His career numbers against the Marlins are excellent, though, at .307/.333/.573 and five home runs over twenty-one career games, that .307 average is Pedro’s best against any N.L. team.
The Marlins lead the season series by a score of two games to one.
This three game series at PNC Park will feature the exact same pitching matchups as the three game set between the Marlins and Pirates in Miami, July 26th-28th.
Over the last ten games at PNC Park, the Pirates have had at least 31,000+ fans in attendance.