The Pittsburgh Pirates have set their starting rotation for their vital upcoming three-game series at Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals
After being swept by the Chicago Cubs this past weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates now find themselves with a 44-48 record. This puts the team 5.5 games out of first place in the National League Central division and 3.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot.
Next up for the Pirates is an important three-game series against their divisional rival St. Louis Cardinals. When the Bucs kick off their three-game series on Monday night, they will be led by right-handed starter Joe Musgrove.
This season Musgrove has been the Pirates best starting pitcher. He owns a 4.15 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 5.5% walk rate, 19.9% strikeout rate, and has allowed 10 home runs in 99 2/3 innings pitched. Outside of one bad stretch in mid-May, Musgrove has been great this season.
Following a sweep at the hands of the Cubs, the Pirates need Musgrove to play stopper and put a foot down on Monday night. Right now, he is the Pirate starter most likely, and capable, of doing this.
Tuesday night, the Pirates will send Dario Agrazal to the mound. This will be the fourth career start for the Panamanian native. In his first three starts Agrazal owns a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings of work.
The issue with Agrazal is that he does not generate many strikeouts. He has struck out just 10.3% of the batters he has faced thus far at the MLB level. In order to continue his success, Agrazal must start striking out more batters. Unfortunately, low strikeout rates were always an issue for Agrazal in the minor leagues as well.
Finally, there is Wednesday afternoon’s finale. Chris Archer will take the ball for the Pirates, and look to build upon the strong start he had on Friday against the Cubs. On the season Archer owns a 5.42 ERA and a 5.71 FIP. He has also allowed a NL high 23 home runs. However, he showed a lot of promise in his last start.
Prior to Friday’s start against the Cubs, Archer said he wanted to go back to pitching the way he did with the Tampa Bay Rays. He did this and it led to success. While Archer was charged with 3 runs in 6+ innings of work, but entering the 7th inning he had allowed just two base runners while striking out 10.
He allowed a solo home run to start the inning, and then allowed a single and issued a walk before being pulled. The last two runs that were charged to him, however, scored when Michael Feliz was on the mound and failed to strand inherited runners. Hopefully, Friday’s start was a sign of things to come from Archer in the second half.