Pittsburgh Pirates Look To Bounce Back vs. Brew Crew

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

After an absolutely abysmal sweep by the Cubs, the heartbroken Pittsburgh Pirates head home to face the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers. Series like these can make or break a season, so who has the advantage? Let’s analyze what to watch for.

Well, that Cubs series didn’t go as planned, did it? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a loss as deflating as the one the Pittsburgh Pirates took on Monday. The 8-7 loss in 13 innings was a game that the Pirates really should’ve taken, and when they didn’t, the wind was knocked out of their sails for the rest of the series. Being swept by the Cubs leaves the Bucs 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot. It would be easy to get dejected and say that we have no chance to make up that ground after such a disgruntling series, but have no fear. The lowly Brewers are coming to town.

Even though it is like some horrifying recurring nightmare for Pirates’ fans every time the team travels to Miller Park, it is basically the polar opposite when the two teams meet at PNC Park. Even though it feels like the Buccos always underperform against the Brewers, they actually have a winning record against them at PNC Park since 2012 (23-19). The Brewers still stink, with a record 19 games under .500 at 57-76. So, this should be a series win for the Pirates, right? Here is what to watch out for.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: Junior Guerra (7-3, 2.93) vs. Jameson Taillon (3-3, 3.39)

Saturday: Jimmy Nelson (7-13, 4.45) vs. Ivan Nova (4-0, 2.87)

Sunday: Chase Anderson (7-11, 4.92) vs. Steven Brault (0-1, 3.86)

Friday’s pitching match-up is one to watch for. I know in one of the above paragraphs, I said that the Brewers stink. But another thing is certain: Junior Guerra definitely does not stink. The 31-year-old Venezuelan journeyman has started 17 games this year, going 7-3 with a 2.93 ERA, a .206 BAA, and a 1.09 WHIP.

Guerra has been a rare bright spot for a struggling Milwaukee team over the season. However, Friday will be his first start since he went on the DL for elbow inflammation on August 7th. No matter how good the pitcher is, not starting in an MLB game for a month will bring some rust that needs to be shaken off. Guerra is the toughest pitcher the Bucs will face this weekend, so if they can knick a few runs off of him early, it will help their chances of winning the series greatly.

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Players to Watch

Pirates: Josh Harrison and Starling Marte

Josh Harrison is a classic example of a spark plug. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that hustle alone wins games, because that’s just simply not true. But when your team is stuck in a rut, especially when it is against a statistically worse team, one player’s hustle can make an impact in a game that could mean the difference between winning and losing. Josh Harrison has been that player many times before, and he will be many times again, maybe even during this series.

Starling Marte has been great this season, but some Pirates fans are asking him, “Where are the power numbers?” We know Marte can absolutely annihilate the ball when he really catches one square, but that doesn’t seem to happen very often. He only has eight home runs this season, and it feels like maybe he should be having more of an impact in that category. He hit a dinger in the four-game sweep of the Brewers at Miller Park last weekend, so maybe the Brewers are his lucky team to touch ’em all against.

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Brewers: Hernan Perez and Orlando Arcia 

Hernan Perez is getting really annoying. We’ve seen this story before with Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton: a decent player who always plays out of his skin when he goes against the Pirates. Perez has been a thorn in the Pirates’ side ever since he hit Jameson Taillon in the head with that line drive back in July. Now, I’m more afraid of him stepping to the plate than I am with Ryan Braun. Okay, maybe not, but he still hits Pirates pitching really well and will be one to watch for this weekend.

The average baseball fan probably has no clue who Orlando Arcia even is at this point in his career. Well, for starters he is a 22-year-old rookie shortstop from Venezuela. He is considered one of the top prospects in the Brewers’ system and the MLB for that matter. His bat has been relatively quiet since he came up to the bigs. Arcia is hitting a meager .189 with two home runs and ten RBIs in 30 games. But his glove has been nothing short of spectacular, especially in the series in Milwaukee last weekend. If he can put both aspects together, the Bucs will need to watch out.

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Final Verdict

These are the types of series that can make or break a season. It may not seem very important because of the opponent, but each and every series from here on out is just as important as any other. But as I previously stated, the Brewers stink.


The Bucs sweep the Brewers at home, and Bernie Brewer cries all weekend.

Go Bucs.