Pittsburgh Pirates: Hitter’s Numbers Against Chris Sale

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates faceoff against Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox tonight.  The Pirates are looking to get a win in the second game of the season. Let’s analyze what to expect against the lefty ace.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a tall, lanky, deceptive, hard-throwing task to get by if they want to get a win tonight.  Chris Sale has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball over the course of his career.  Last year, Sale went 17-10, a 3.34 earned run average, and a 5.2 WAR.  He was also part of the biggest acquisition of this past off-season.  Sale was shipped to Boston from the Chicago White Sox for a package of prospects.  The White Sox acquired the top infield prospect in baseball in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech,a top 30 prospect in baseball, among others.

Players vs Sale

Sale makes his Red Sox debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Pittsburgh Pirates do not have an extensive history against Chris Sale.  This should not be surprising, as he spent his whole career in the AL Central.  The only hitters to face Sale have been three former American League players.  The three players are Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, and David Freese.  Only two of them will be in the lineup today, obviously, as Stewart is the backup catcher.

David Freese has the most plate appearances against Sale, and it is only three.  In those three plate appearances, he recorded just one hit and no strikeouts.  Francisco Cervelli has faced Sale three times as well.  Cervelli has only been credited with two at-bats, however, and has struck out twice while walking in his only other plate appearances.  It is very unlikely that Chris Stewart will receive an at-bat against Chris Sale today, but just for reference, Stewart is 0 for 2 in his career against Sale.

More from Rum Bunter

Pirates vs Lefties

All though there is not a lot to look at in regards to the Pittsburgh Pirates hitters against Chris Sale, we can take a look at their success against left handed starters.  Over the last few seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had success against lefty pitchers, having the fifth best record in 2014, seventh best in 2015, and third best in 2016. 2016 was a remarkable season against left-handed pitching, as the Pirates went 20-9. The Pittsburgh Pirates ranked fifth in wOBA against left-handed pitching last season.  Their overall slash was .263/.350/.412.

Tonight’s Game

Now Chris Sale obviously is not your basic left-handed pitcher.  He is a power pitcher with a deceptive, long delivery.  He is not the prototypical crafty lefty who lives on location and sweeping curveballs.  He is arguably the second or third best left hander in baseball to only Clayton Kershaw and maybe Madison Bumgarner.

Next: A Quick Look at the Cubs vs Pirates This Year

The key to today’s game will be for the Pittsburgh Pirates to capitalize their scoring opportunities, as they will be limited.  One key will be getting runs early.  The Pirates lineup does not have a lot of experience against Chris Sale, but that does work both ways as Sale has not seen a lot of the Pirates hitters.  If the Pirates can carry over their success against left handed starters from last year, they should have a chance to get at least one inning of opportunities. Also, Jameson Taillon needs to keep the Red Sox lineup at bay.  It will need to be a low-scoring game for the Pirates to win.  Either way, tonight will be a good pitching matchup and a very interesting game to watch.

Finally, Comment Below with Thoughts on the Matchup!