Pitchers: Jon Niese (4-2, 4.75) and Cole Hamels (5-0, 2.83) hook up in a battle of southpaws. Jon's been coming around lately. His last two starts have been strong, and his groundball mojo is starting to kick in. The Bucco lefty is 1-0 /4.50 in two lifetime starts against the Rangers. Texas is 7-2 when Cole starts a game this season, and he's tossed five really good outings and four that were just workmanlike. That's left him with an unsightly 4.50 FIP and he's also coughed up a ton of long balls. But Hamels faced the Bucs twice last year, going 1-0/1.29 and striking out 21 batters in 14 IP, so he knows how to work through Pittsburgh's lineup. In his career, he's 3-2/2.43 in nine starts against the Pirates.
|Jon Niese hopes to keep the good times rollin' (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Lineup: Jordy SS, Cutch CF, David Freese 3B, Jung Ho Kang DH, Fran Cervelli C, Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Gregory Polanco RF, Niese P. Yay, the Pirate bench is finally deep enough that the team isn't at a competitive disadvantage because of the DH.
Should be a great series; both teams have strong records, the Rangers building their success behind a stellar rotation and the Bucs through persistent attack coupled with good starting outings of late. The Pirates (27-19) have won four straight and 9-of-11 while Texas (27-20) has won 5-of-6. Both are sitting second in their respective divisions, with the Bucs 4-1/2 games behind the Cubs and the Rangers 1-1/2 games off of Seattle's pace.
- Pittsburgh will not see 2B Rougned Odor, who will be out while serving his seven game suspension for punching Joey Bats. Jurickson Profar was recalled as his roster replacement.
- Sam Dykstra in MiLB.com notes Indy RHP Chad Kuhl's impressive outing, his control and his ground ball rate. Then he gives us a reality check, citing a rock bottom .208 BABIP and 3.26 FIP. Chad is the real deal who's also riding the crest right now.
- Speaking of Indy, RHP Trevor Williams was assigned to Indianapolis from Bradenton and is slated to start tomorrow against Pawtucket.
- Rough year - Pirates Prospects reports that Bradenton (High A) SS Kevin Newman suffered an orbital fracture when he was beaned. He'll be sent to Pittsburgh for further evaluation. The 2015 #1 pick was hitting .346 for the Marauders.