Pittsburgh Pirates Begin 3 Game Series Against New York Mets

May 31, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell (55) congratulates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) on his solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eleventh inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
May 31, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell (55) congratulates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) on his solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eleventh inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates begin a 3 game series against the New York Mets on Friday night

At 7:10 PM this evening the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets will begin a 3 game series. The Pirates enter this series struggling after a 2-4 homestand dropped them to 24-30 on the season. That homestand included the Pirates losing 2 of 3 to the Mets last weekend.

As for the Mets, this series is the final 3 games of a 7 game homestand. Overall, the Mets own a record of 23-29. They are coming off of a 4 game series split with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Game 1 tonight will feature a pitching matchup of Gerrit Cole and Matt Harvey. Cole’s last start came against the New York Mets last Saturday, and the Pirate right-hander struggled.

Gerrit Cole lasted just 5 innings in this start, and he allowed 4 earned runs on 10 hits. This included a trio of home runs. While Cole walked just 1 batter, he also struck out just 3. The Mets hit the ball extremely hard off of Cole all night long, he will look for a bounce-back outing on Friday night.

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In fact, Gerrit Cole has struggled in his past 2 starts. In these starts, he has allowed 9 earned runs on 20 hits, 5 home runs, 2 walks, and just 5 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings pitched. If I were a betting man, I’d bank on Cole bouncing back tonight.

As for Matt Harvey, much of his 2017 season has been a struggle. In 56 1/3 innings pitched this season Harvey’s walk rate (4.47 BB/9), home run rate (1.92 HR/9), strikeout rate (6.55 K/9), ERA (4.95), FIP (5.95), and xFIP (4.95) are all career worsts. However, against the Pirates, last Sunday Harvey held the Bucs to just 1 run, a Gregory Polanco solo home run, on 6 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings pitched.

Saturday night’s game is scheduled for 7:15 PM. Tyler Glasnow is scheduled to start for the Pirates, while the Mets plan to go with Robert Gsellman.

2017 has been an up-and-down season for Glasnow thus far. Although, he has been better in May. Outside of his 2 1/3 inning disaster against the Diamondbacks, he has allowed 30 hits, 10 walks, 4 home runs, and 24 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings pitched.

Robert Gsellman has also struggled this season. He owns a 5.75 ERA, 4.35 FIP, and a 4.24 xFIP. In 51 2/3 innings pitched he has allowed 62 hits and 6 home runs.

Sunday afternoon’s finale is scheduled for 1:10 PM. Ivan Nova will pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates, while Tyler Pill will make his second start of the season for the Mets. In 6 innings pitched this season Pill has allowed 2 earned runs on 7 hits, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts.

Ivan Nova, meanwhile, has been one of the best starting pitchers in the National League this season. Through his first 11 starts Nova leads all National League starting pitchers in walk rate (0.70 BB/9) and complete games (2), he is third in innings pitched (77), third in home run rate (0.58 HR/9), fifth in WAR (1.8), and sixth in FIP (3.15).

Hopefully, Nova’s Cy Young caliber season will continue on Sunday.

Adam Frazier and Josh Bell, two players that have been catalysts of the Pirate offense all season long, are both struggling entering this series. Frazier is 6 for his last 35 with 8 walks, a .296 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 83 during that stretch.

As for Josh Bell, he is just 3 for 35 with a walk in the past week. He has 1 double, a .103 wOBA, and a wRC+ of -44 during this stretch. Getting Frazier and Bell back on track would go a long way toward getting the Pirate offense going again.

Helping the Pittsburgh Pirates offense, however, is the return of Gregory Polanco. Polanco came off the disabled list last Thursday and owns a .438 on-base percentage, a .526 wOBA, a 236 wRC+, and he has hit 2 home runs since returning.

Also, Andrew McCutchen has started to heat up at the plate as well. After being benched in the final 2 games of the Pirates’ series in Atlanta during the week of May 22 – 25, he owns a .513 wOBA, 227 wRC+, and a .500 on-base percentage in 26 plate appearances.

The Pittsburgh Pirates still go as Andrew McCutchen goes. So, hopefully, he is starting to get going again. The Pirates are still just 4 games out of first place in the National League Central and could make up this ground quickly if Andrew McCutchen gets hot.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates could really use a series victory this weekend in Queens. That starts with game 1 of their series tonight, and that hignes on Gerrit Cole pitching like the ace he is and not struggling the way he has his past 2 outings. Hopefully, the Pirates will be riding the Cole Train tonight.

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