Pittsburgh Pirates Host Important Series against Braves

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 01: Steven Brault #43 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in relief against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on August 1, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 01: Steven Brault #43 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in relief against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on August 1, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates open a three game series with the Braves at 28-30. The series is a must-win for the Pirates.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are coming off a pretty rough stretch of baseball – at least when looking at the win and loss columns. The Pirates collected only four wins over their past fourteen games. While this stretch alone is not enough to sink the Pirates, if the trend continues there is no way the Pirates compete in the hyper-competitive NL Central. No matter what the front office says, if the Pirates are below .500 and are fourth in the division by the July 8th all-star break, the team will sell and the 2019 playoff run will be all but over.

So what do the Pirates need to do against the Braves to win and right this sinking ship?

Well to start, the Pirates need to beat the 32-27 Braves on day one. On paper, Tuesday’s match up will be the most difficult for the Pirates to win, so a win on Tuesday could set up the series as a series win or sweep. For game one the Pirates will send Steven Brault to the mound. Brault owns a 2-1 record and carries a 5.87 ERA. While Brault’s ERA is high, he did blank the Reds over five innings in his last outing. Brault will face off against Max Fried who owns a 7-3 record and a 3.19 ERA. Fried has been the Braves best starting pitcher this season.

Game 2 is more favorable for the Pirates as the Bucs will call on Joe Musgrove. While Musgrove owns a 4.57 ERA, he clearly is capable of shutting down a team. Even though Musgrove’s last outing was extremely painful, I like Musgrove having a bounce-back outing here. The Braves will counter Musgrove with Kevin Gausman. Gausman has really struggled this season as he owns a 5.56 ERA over 11 starts. In addition, Gausman’s last start saw eight players cross home plate in the only inning that he finished against the Nationals.

Game 3 hosts a potentially revived Chris Archer verse the Brave’s Mike Foltynewicz. Archer owns a 5.66 ERA, but had a great start against the Brewers recently. Surprisingly, Foltynewicz trumps Archer’s ERA with an ERA of 6.10 over seven starts. Foltynewicz has been plagued by the home run ball this season and has generally pitched better than his ERA projects.

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Let’s hope the Buccos can muster enough offense to support Brault in game 1, and then follow up with two great outings from both Musgrove and Archer. While the Braves are tied for first in the NL East, this team is very beatable. The Pirates miss Braves perennial ace Julio Teheran and have generally favorable pitching match ups.

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