This weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates will host the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park
The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently playing their best baseball of the 2017 season. The 37-42 Pirates are 11-9 in their past 20 games and are coming off a series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. This puts the Bucs just 4 games out of first place in the National League Central.
Starting tonight, the Pittsburgh Pirates begin a stretch where 34 of their next 46 games are against sub-.500 team. That stretch begins with a 3 game weekend series against the surprisingly horrible San Francisco Giants.
The San Francisco Giants have been the most successful franchise in baseball the past 7 seasons. In 2017 they were expected to be one of the best teams in the National League once again. However, this has been far from the case.
The Giants enter this weekend’s series with a 30-51 record. Next to the Philadelphia Phillies, who the Pirates play next, the Giants have the worst record in the National League.
A big reason for the struggles of the Giants has been injuries. Madison Bumgarner, Mark Melancon, and Will Smith are all on the disabled list which has greatly weakened their pitching staff. Their infield depth has been tested with Connor Gillaspie and Eduardo Nunez both also being on the disabled list.
More from Rum Bunter
- Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Stockwatch: Outfielder Tres Gonzalez
- Pittsburgh Pirates Podcast: Rum Bunter Radio Talks Winter Meetings Fallout
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Leadoff Hitters in 2023
- Pittsburgh Pirates: The Rotation is not being Improved
- Pittsburgh Pirates Make Vince Velasquez Signing Official
Game 1 of the series this evening features what is on paper a great pitching matchup between Gerrit Cole and longtime Pirate nemesis Johnny Cueto. However, Cueto is having the worst season of his Major League career. Cueto currently owns a 4.51 FIP, 3.98 xFIP, and he is allowing 1.61 HR/9. His FIP is the second worst of his career, while his home run rate is the worst.
Aa for Gerrit Cole, his overall numbers this season are not very pretty. In 96 1/3 innings pitched he is averaging 7.38 K/9, 2.24 BB/9, and has been plagued by the long ball averaging 1.59 HR/9. All of this comes out to a 4.11 ERA, 4.57 FIP, and a 4.02 xFIP, all of which are career worsts.
Cole has been much better in his past 3 starts. He has allowed just 3 earned runs on 11 hits, 7 walks, 2 home runs, and 13 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched in these starts.
Tonight’s game could be a 2-1 pitcher’s duel, or it could erupt into a 7-5 game. Only time will tell which way it will go.
In 16 starts Moore owns a 6.04 ERA, 4.75 FIP, and a 5.16 xFIP in 89 1/3 innings pitched. He is averaging 3.53 BB/9, 1.41 HR/9, and he has allowed 109 hits. Look for the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup that has been red hot in June to have a big day Saturday afternoon.
Chad Kuhl has had a rough go of things for the Pirates this season. Despite an increase in velocity and a new found weapon in a curveball, he has still struggled to the tune of a 5.58 ERA and a 4.28 FIP in 15 starts (69 1/3 IP). Furthermore, he has failed to pitch more than 5 innings in 12 consecutive starts.
Samardzija has been, by far, the Giants’ best pitcher in 2017. In 105 innings pitched he is averaging a career high 10.03 K/9, his 1.11 BB/9 is the lowest of his career, and his hard contact rate is a very strong 27.7 percent. He owns a 3.38 FIP and a 2.95 xFIP this season.
Pirate fans are watching as Trevor Williams turns into a very strong middle of the rotation arm. Since joining the starting rotation, Williams has made 10 starts. In these 10 starts he owns a 3.72 FIP in 53 2/3 innings pitched. He’s averaged 6.37 K/9, 1.68 BB/9, and he has allowed just 54 hits and 5 home runs. Williams has also generated more soft contact than any other pitcher in the National League during this stretch.
The Giant offense has been one of the worst in the National League this season. They enter this series ranked 13th in the National Leauge in runs score (311), 14th in on-base percentage (.304), and they are dead last in the league in home runs hit with 66.
Buster Posey remains one of the best two-way players in baseball. The Gold Glove catcher owns a .404 wOBA, 155 wRC+, and a .422 on-base percentage in 68 games played this season. But other than Posey only Brandon Belt (111 wRC+) and Denard Span (107 wRC+) have been above league average offensively this season.
On top of their offense being bad, the Giant bullpen has been a mess this season as well. A big reason for the struggles of their bullpen is due to their best relievers, Will Smith and Mark Melancon, being injured. Even when healthy this season, the ex-Pirate fan favorite Melancon has struggled immensely in his first season by the bay.
The Giants’ bullpen ranks 9th in the National League in ERA (4.35), 12th in FIP (3.82) and walk rate (3.95 BB/9), and dead last in xFIP (4.64) which indicates things are most likely only going to get worse. If the Pirates can get into the Giant bullpen this weekend, then it should be a successful weekend for the Bucs.
This upcoming 2 month stretch is a great opportunity for the Pittsburgh Pirates to make a run at overtaking first place in the National League Central. That stretch begins tonight at 7:05 PM at PNC Park when the Pirates start a 3 game series with the 30-51 San Francisco Giants.