The Pittsburgh Pirates have a chance to finish off a sweep of the National League’s best team tonight
When the Colorado Rockies came to Pittsburgh on Monday they owned the National League’s best record at 41-24. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Pirates found themselves at 28-35. Despite this, the Pirates have the opportunity to finish off a series sweep tonight.
After defeating the Rockies 7-2 on Monday night and then 5-1 last night, the Pittsburgh Pirates will look to capture their third series sweep of the season tonight. Furthermore, a victory tonight would improve the Pirates to 5-2 on their current 10 game home stand.
The Pittsburgh Pirates enter tonight’s game just 3.5 games out of first place in the National League Central. The past five seasons the National League Central has been one of the best divisions in baseball. This season, however, it is one of the worst. But the Pirates certainly are not complaining about this.
Chad Kuhl will get the ball for the Pirates tonight. Through his first 12 starts of the season, Kuhl owns a 5.63 ERA in 54 1/3 innings pitched.
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While Kuhl has certainly struggled at times this season, he has been much better than his ERA indicates. His 7.29 K/9 and 0.83 HR/9 are both improvements over last season. While his 3.98 BB/9 is higher than last season and needs to come down, he still owns a 4.13 FIP this season. While not spectacular, a 4.13 FIP is better than a lot of back end of the rotation starting pitchers.
Chad Kuhl has also experienced a spike in fastball velocity this season. After averaging 93.0 miles per hour last season, his fastball has jumped to an average of 95.3 miles per hour this season. As a result, the opposition wRC+ off of his fastball has dropped 27 points from last season.
He has also started to incorporate a curveball in recent starts. This curveball has been, literally, unhittable. Kuhl has not allowed a single base hit off of his curveball yet, and it is a pitch he needs to begin to use more often.
In 48 2/3 innings pitched this season the results from Marquez has been a mixed bag. He has generated plenty of swings and misses as he averages 9.06 K/9. However, he has had some control issues (3.33 BB/9, 3 batters hit, and 2 wild pitches) and his 1.11 HR/9 is higher than the Rockies would like.
He owns a 4.44 ERA, however, like Chad Kuhl, he has pitched better than his ERA. His 3.94 FIP indicates as much, and his 4.25 xFIP indicates he is due for slightly better results than his 4.44 ERA moving forward.
The Pittsburgh Pirates still go as Andrew McCutchen goes. And in recent weeks, he has been going extremely well. Cutch owns a .480 on-base percentage, .494 wOBA, and a 213 wRC+ in his past 75 plate appearances. Josh Bell (.378 on-base percentage, .384 wOBA, and 140 wRC+ in June) and Jordy Mercer (.426 on-base percentage, .428 wOBA, and 169 wRC+ his last 100 plate appearances) are two other Pirate hitters that have been red hot and are worth watching tonight.
Through the first 2 games of this series, the Pirate pitching staff has done an excellent job of keeping the National League’s best lineup in check. If Kuhl and the bullpen can do that again tonight, the Pirates should have an excellent shot at sweeping the Rockies.
First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 PM.