The Pittsburgh Pirates were off yesterday, and hopefully that didn’t cool them off.
They’re the hottest team in baseball right now with a seven game win streak. They swept the Colorado Rockies with offensive explosions and then swept the Cincinnati Reds with great pitching and defense.
However, it’s a whole different ball game when you have to face the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pirates are 16-7 and the Dodgers are 12-11, but LA is a perennial contender and this is a measuring stick series for the upstart Bucs.
One big reason to get excited about the Pirates is their young starting pitching and Johan Oviedo might be the best of the bunch.
He starts tonight and comes into this matchup with a 2.22 ERA across four starts and he is 2-1. Noah Syndergaard was once that young power pitcher he’ll see on the other side, but now this 30-year-old version of Syndergaard is 0-3 with a 4.91 ERA.
Let’s get into the odds and see if the Buccos can raise the jolly roger again at PNC Park.
Dodgers vs. Pirates odds, run line and total
Dodgers vs. Pirates prediction and pick
If the Pirates are going to be for real this season then they’ll need Oviedo to pitch like this the rest of the way. I have no real reason to believe that he won’t.
The big change this season is Oviedo is no longer relying on his power fastball as his go-to pitch. He throws his slider 40% of the time, and his fastball, 32%. His slider has a 37.8% whiff rate and is allowing a .240 expected slugging.
His curveball, which he throws 22% of the time, is actually his best pitch with a .157 xSLG and a -5 run value. By run value, it’s the 14th best pitch in baseball.
Oviedo’s fastball can touch 100 miles per hour and is important to his repertoire, but he’s made a jump to becoming a high level starting pitcher by utilizing his offspeed pitches more. He is 85th percentile in whiff rate and 89th in barrel rate. Hitters rarely make contact and when they do, it’s rarely ever solid.
He’ll be the much better starting pitcher in this one.
The Pirates also have a strong bullpen that will be able to keep this game low-scoring. The worry is that Pittsburgh’s lineup cooled dramatically over the weekend. They only managed 12 runs over four games against the Reds.
Bryan Reynolds is currently away on bereavement, so the heart of the Pittsburgh order will be even weaker. If the Bucs are to keep the win streak going, they’ll need to win another low-scoring game, but regardless if they win tonight, they might hang around at the top of the NL Central standings because of Oviedo’s development.
Follow all Josh Yourish’s bets HERE
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change