After an extended hot streak, the Pirates have cooled off a bit, getting swept by the Rockies last weekend, and dropping two of three to the Cardinals (both losses in extra innings). They still maintain a two game lead over St. Louis for first place, and now head home for a three game set with Arizona. The Diamondbacks have won three straight, and are making a heavy push for the second N.L. wild card, coming into the last several weeks of the season.
Game One: Brandon McCarthy (2-6, 4.73) Vs. Gerrit Cole (5-5, 3.95): McCarthy is returning from a long DL stint, and since that time has one good start, and one poor start. In one start against the Pirates this year, he gave up six runs (four earned) on ten hits, and took a loss. Cole has seen his ERA rise in each start since out dueling Stephen Strasburg in Washington in July. If Gerrit Cole has things back together after skipping his last start, this matchup favors the Pirates.
Game Two: Trevor Cahill (3-10, 4.66) Vs. Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.43): Cahill has been knocked about in his last few starts, only going 10.1 innings over his last three outings. He gave up twelve runs on sixteen hits over those 10.1 innings of work. Locke is still looking for his tenth win, although he pitched well in his last start (giving up two runs on three hits over 5.2 innings) he still hasn’t gotten back to his pre-break form, making him a tough pitcher to predict right now.
Game Three: Wade Miley (9-8, 3.63) Vs. Charlie Morton (4-3, 3.79): Over his last four starts, Miley has gone at least six innings in each, and the most runs he’s given up in any one of them was four. Morton’s performed admirably as a fifth starter this season, but hasn’t quite put everything together yet. Over his last three starts, he’s gone a combined nineteen innings, giving up nine runs on twenty-three hits. Given that Miley has won each of his last three decisions, this matchup plays better for Arizona than Pittsburgh.
*All matchups listed are probable
Diamondbacks Players To Watch:
Paul Goldschmidt: The man who gave Starling Marte his first chance to showcase his arm in the big leagues is having an MVP caliber season this year, batting .295/.391/.549, with twenty-nine home runs, and ninety-three RBI. He’s a career 6-15 at PNC Park, with three doubles, and three RBI. He’s been a force all year, so the Pirates need to minimize the damage in this series.
Aaron Hill: Although his season’s been significantly shortened by injury, Hill is still a second base stud for Arizona, batting .304/.359/.529 over fifty-one games. Over his nine year career he’s hit only .200 against the Pirates. Another guy Pirates pitches will need to be very wary of throughout the series.
Gerardo Parra: Parra is hot over the last several games, over twenty-two at bats in five games, he has eight hits for a .364 average. He’s a career 14-43 at PNC Park, with four extra base hits.
Pirates Players To Watch:
Starling Marte: After an ugly series in St. Louis, Marte is due for a bounce back series. When he gets cold, it’s rarely for a long time, expect Marte to come out firing again at home. He hasn’t struggled with the Diamondbacks either, going 12-29 against them, six extra base hits and six RBI.
Andrew McCutchen: With a .429/.533/.649 line over the last two weeks, McCutchen’s been getting it done for the Pirates. He has a career line of .320/.415/.520 against the Diamondbacks, look for Cutch to do big things over this weekend set.
Andrew Lambo: Lambo will get his first opportunity to play in front of the home crowd at PNC Park this weekend, following a debut series against the Cardinals in which he was 1-8 with an RBI double. His lefty power ought to play well at PNC Park when he’s squaring the ball up well.
The Pirates lead the season series two games to one.
The Diamondbacks come into the series on a three game winning streak, all three wins coming via the walkoff.
Pedro Alvarez and Paul Goldschmidt enter this series tied for the N.L. lead in home runs.
Pirates take two of three, thanks to superior pitching and big series’ from Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen.