Pittsburgh Pirates preview: #LatenightBUCN vs the Padres


Fresh off of two series sweeps in a row, the Pittsburgh Pirates (24-22) begin a 10 game roadtrip with a four game slate against the San Diego Padres (23-25) that begins tonight.

It is well known that the Pirates have struggled against the Fathers in recent history, having gone 16-40 in their last 56 games against the NL West club. This year’s Padres have a different feel to them, as they were huge players in the offseason, bringing aboard Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Will Myers, and Craig Kimbrel via trades. The results have been a mixed bag. Upton in particular has shone with 12 HR to go along with 36 RBI and nine stolen bases while batting .293. The Bucs will not see Myers as he is on the shelf with tendinitis in his wrist.

Overall the additions and the new outlook have suited the Padres well even though their record may not show it. The Padres rank fourth overall in the NL in runs and RBI. The Padres pitching may present a problem to free-swinging Pirates such as Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte, as they lead the NL in strikeouts as a team. If the Pittsburgh Pirates can make good contact, they can take advantage, as the Padres opponnents bat .256 against them, good for ninth overall in the NL, while giving up the most home runs on the senior circuit with 63 on the year.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Thursday, 5/28, 10:10 PM – RHP A.J. Burnett (4-1, 1.37 ERA) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (2-4, 6.11 ERA)

Friday, 5/29, 10:10 PM – LHP Francisco Liriano (2-4, 3.86 ERA) vs. RHP James Shields (6-0, 3.75 ERA)

Saturday, 5/30, 10:10 PM – RHP Charlie Morton (1-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (2-4, 3.84 ERA)

Sunday, 5/31, 9:10 PM – LHP Jeff Locke (3-2, 4.70 ERA) vs. RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (2-3, 5.23 ERA)

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Pitching Matchup Analysis: 

The Pirates would do well to get to Ian Kennedy early. Kennedy is having an uncharacteristically bad, giving up six home runs in his last five starts alone. Opponents are slugging .899 overall against him. Liriano’s matchup against Shields is considerably tougher. After a couple of shaky starts in the beginning of May, Shields is 3-0 in his last three starts, striking out 27 while walking five. Shields has only seen Francisco Cervelli, Sean Rodriguez, and Chris Stewart, who are a combined 1-for-16 against him. Ross and Despaigne are journeyman pitchers at best, and Ross is struggling to replicate his 2014 in which he won 13 games with an ERA of 2.81.

Below are career batting stats for all Pirates who have faced Kennedy and Ross.

Ian Kennedy

Corey Hart20183010012.
Pedro Alvarez19172001125.
Neil Walker18188103900.444.4441.0001.444
Andrew McCutchen17156001223.400.471.6001.071
Jordy Mercer992100001.222.222.333.556
Jose Tabata973200310.429.556.7141.270
Josh Harrison764120110.667.7141.5002.214
Starling Marte651001112.200.333.8001.133
Chris Stewart440000001.
Gregory Polanco3331001001.0001.0001.3332.333
Sean Rodriguez310000010.000.667.000.667

Tyson Ross

Starling Marte651000002.200.333.200.533
Andrew McCutchen651001201.200.333.8001.133
Jordy Mercer653000011.600.667.6001.267
Neil Walker651001102.200.333.8001.133
Pedro Alvarez551010101.200.200.600.800
Chris Stewart550000002.
Jose Tabata430000001.
Josh Harrison320000000.000.333.000.333
Gregory Polanco332101200.667.6672.0002.667
Sean Rodriguez221100001.500.5001.0001.500

Series Prediction: 

With the way this team is rolling and considering the strange fact that Petco Park is playing much looser this year, expect the 3-6 hitters for the Pirates to have a big series. I’m expecting to see the Pirates possibly drop the game against Shields but the pitching matchups in the other games are too tilted to predect anything other than a 3-1 series victory for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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