There is something so refreshing about a dominating performance. Francisco Liriano had one. Pedro Alvarez took the National League lead in homers. Gaby Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly! That might be the most surprising action of all. After a two month drought we can stop talking about that.
Thank God they won last night. A double post after that would be unbearable to write or read.
The victory last night puts the Pirates record against the Cardinals at 4-2, they haven’t had a ton of trouble with them and are currently outscoring them 35-24.
A.J. Burnett will pitch the first game of the doubleheader. Keep in mind this is a true doubleheader, not a day/night asshole doubleheader.
Personally I hate the stupid day/night doubleheader. I’m a traditionalist. I think they should actually schedule doubleheaders regularly. Once or twice a month. That’d be great. Buy one ticket, see two games, spend the whole day in heaven.
Ahhhhhhhhhh paradise. Too bad money has to get in the way.
Anyway. A.J. Burnett. He struggles and then shows what he can do. He held the Nationals to one earned over seven but actually gave up four total runs after an abortion of a first inning by the Pirates. The Pirates would go on to lost that game 9-7 after tying it in the bottom of the ninth inning.
You remember I’m sure. Bryce Harper hit a walk off two run homer and 90% of the world started immediately criticizing him for being young and good.
Anyway, Burnett is due. He hasn’t picked up a W since June 8th against the Cubs. He had to go 8.1 innings to do that.
Arguably his best outing of the year came against the Cardinals. He gave up just one hit and no runs for his first win of the season.
Last year the Cardinals CRUSHED A.J. Burnett so that great outing earlier in the season is a bit of a relief.
His career numbers level out nicely though.
Russel Martin will catch A.J. Burnett. Usually I’d complain about A.J. constantly getting caught by whoever he wants just because he’s A.J. but it really makes sense today, despite the day game after a night game. Holding runners is one reason but Tony Sanchez is the better pick for whoever starts because of his familiarity with them.
He’ll face off against Lance Lynn. Lynn was actually supposed to start the second game of the DH but they moved him up to have him face the veteran A.J. Burnett.
Lynn is having another steady season. Another in a long line of Cardinals pitchers that don’t seem to be able to fail.
Lynn has faced the Pirates twice this year. One was a pretty poor outing, the other was very good.
Potentially more relevant is his last five starts. He is 2-3 in his last five with a bloated 5.52 ERA. Opponents are hitting a massive .331/.385/.432 against him. He has just two quality starts in that span and has allowed 4+ runs three times.
The Pirates may be facing Lynn in a bit of a dead arm period. That would be a huge advantage. If they can get Lynn out of this game reasonably early that’s even more stress on the bullpen that worked a little more than they would have liked yesterday.
That might not matter too much tonight, though it will play a big role, but tomorrow the Cardinals bullpen could be decimated, if the Pirates play their cards right.
Lynn wasn’t great against the Pirates last year, averaging less than a quality start.
He definitely has a bit of a platoon split, especially in regards to his strikeout numbers so I’d expect to see a lefty filled lineup.
It might not have showed as much on the scorecard but Alex Presley acquitted himself well last night and deserves the start in RF.
You hear that Clint? Let Gaby Sanchez pinch hit or something. Don’t freaking start him.
Well that’s game one.
First Pitch: 4:05 PM EST
Where To Watch: Root Sports, MLBN, MLB.TV, FS-M
Game two will likely feature Brandon Cumpton. That seems to be the word that has leaked out of the Pirates camp though there was some chatter about Stolmy Pimentel potentially making his big league debut. That would be a big jump for Stolmy but I was actually hoping it was the case. Get him in there, see what he has, maybe he gets by on the rookie mystic of not being seen.
But who cares, right? Pimentel has made just 8 starts in AAA, Cumpton has actually pitched in the bigs. It’d be kind of weird to rely on the guy that hasn’t pitched to do so in this big a series.
Cumpton made three starts for the Buccos, none of which were the quality variety. Not to say they were bad, they were just what you’d expect from a guy filling in from AAA.
It’s pretty imperative that A.J. Burnett goes six or seven in Game One. There is almost no chance Cumpton goes more than six and it would be really sad if the Pirates ended up having a short bullpen for the rest of the series.
Cumpton has shown one real trend in his starts. When they figure him out it’s over.
That’s not really surprising but it’s important that he gets through the order pretty clean the first time. No defensive lapses.
It also might help having a catcher he is really familiar with in Tony Sanchez.
Obviously he hasn’t faced the Cardinals yet.
It’ll be rookie vs. rookie as Tyler Lyons goes for the Cards. Lyons hasn’t had a good first season, a rarity amongst Cardinals pitchers.
Why have I been harping on getting into the Cardinals bullpen? Because Lyons is averaging under six innings per outing. The Pirates actually have an advantage in this game. This is one of the main reasons I found it flabbergasting that people were saying a two win series was acceptable. There is no reason the Pirates can’t win this series.
Lyons started off strong, two seven inning, one run outings, but hasn’t had a quality start since. In fact his last start only lasted 1.2 innings. He threw 46 pitches.
Before that he was tattoo’d by the Marlins.
He even has some weird platoon split in which lefties crush him.
That means Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones (who also appears to be heating up) should be able to play and succeed.
Do the Pirates struggle against pitchers they haven’t seen? We ran the numbers, you can decide yourself.
On top of that potential hitch, PNC Park is built better for lefties.
Most people actually project him as a reliever. Basic fastball, curve guy that locates well. Has an okay changeup too but it’s certainly not the main part of his arsenal.
He has never faced the Pirates.
First Pitch: Who Knows
Where To Watch: Root Sports, MLB.TV, FS-M