Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cole v Wood, Lineup, The Race, Streaks, Zeroes, Pitching & D, Stat Man and More...

Gerrit Cole (10-5, 3.85) and southpaw Alex Wood (11-10, 2.78) bump heads tonight.

The Cole Train's last start was a 3-2 win over the Red Sox at PNC Park Thursday. The 24 year old has won his last three starts and traditionally finishes strong; he's gone 7-1 with a 2.98 ERA in nine career starts during September. He's posted a 3-1 mark with a 3.99 ERA in six starts since being reinstated, so he still has a way to go before being a dominator beyond tantalizing flashes. However, the Bucs are 14-6 in his 20 starts this year, so even when Cole isn't dealing, he finds a way to keep the club in the game.

The righty has faced the Braves once. He received a no-decision in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 come-from-behind win in August at PNC Park. His foe was Wood, and they both went seven frames, leaving the game with the score knotted at two.

The 22 year old Wood has quietly become a force on the hill for the 2014 Braves. His chief weapon is a knuckle curve with some wicked movement, and he also features a four-seamer and change up. The lefty hasn't surrendered more than three earned runs in an outing since late July, so expect another grinder-type game. Outside of his meeting with Cole last month, he's only faced Pittsburgh one other time, working two innings of relief in 2013.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Jordy Mercer SS, Cutch CF, Russ Martin C, Starling Marte LF, Neil Walker 2B, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Travis Snider RF and Cole P. Travis gets the nod over JT against a lefty; otherwise a normal southpaw lineup.

The game starts at 7:10 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • The Race: The Giants won in 13 innings last night, and ex-Pirate Hunter Strickland picked up his first MLB save in their win. The Cards won too, so except for Milwaukee being a game closer to going down the drain, the race is unchanged. A Pirate win tonight combined with a Brewers loss would clinch a Pittsburgh playoff berth for the second straight season while the Bucs remain tied with SF with the tiebreaker in hand for the home wild card.
  • Hot, Hot, Hot: Pittsburgh has won 10 of their last 12 games and gone 14-3 in their last 17. The club is season-high 14 games over .500.
  • Zippos: The Pirates have been involved in three straight 1-0 games for the first time since 8/31 to 9/1, 1917. They lost all three back in the day. The Pirates last recorded back-to-back 1-0 wins on October 3rd, 1976, vs. the Cardinals in a doubleheader sweep.
  • Hand In Hand: Mike Petriello of Fangraphs examines how improved defense and pitching - and aren't they the proverbial horse and carriage - fueled the Pirates resurgence in the second half of the season.
  • Stats N' At: Ben Lindbergh of Grantland has a fascinating look at how Clint Hurdle and Mike Fitzgerald, the Pirates SABR hound, cooperate to a degree perhaps unmatched in MLB. 
  • From There To Here: Richard Justice of Sports on Earth recaps the road that made the Pirates contenders after the biblical drought.
  • Rookie Tales: After 13 seasons and 1,095 minor league games, 31 year old Guilder Rodriguez of Texas got a call up to the show and collected his first MLB hit with his parents in the house.

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