Pitchers: Jon Niese (3-2, 5.63) faces Williams Perez (1-0, 3.54). Niese has been a disappointment so far, especially as a middle rotation guy. One big reason is his inability to keep balls in the park; he's given up seven homers in his last 21 IP over four starts, and he's walked 10 guys in that same span. He is 9-6/3.08 in 22 starts against the Braves, so he has a good history against Atlanta. Perez is a ground ball pitcher that uses a sinker, curveball, and changeup. The 24 year old started slowly, but in his last two outings, he's gone 11-1/3 IP giving up just one run. He will give up some walks, so maybe patience at the plate will be the key against him. Perez faced the Pirates twice in 2015, giving up six runs on nine hits and seven walks in 9-2/3 innings while striking out seven. However, the Braves have played well with him on the hill - they're 6-1 in Perez’ last seven starts.
|Jon Niese looks to get back on track (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Lineup: John Jaso 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Matt Joyce RF, Josh Harrison 2B, Jordy SS, Niese P. JHK gets a day off, Gregory shifts to left and Joyce takes over in right to cover for Starling, and Freeser takes over at clean up.
The Pirates open a 24-game stretch outside of the NL Central against the Braves tonight. Atlanta comes in with an anemic offense that's last in MLB in run production, homers and hard-hit balls, so this should be a good opportunity for Pirates pitchers to get on a roll. But despite their 9-27 record, the Braves are throwing some pretty fair pitching (three promising youngsters & Julio Teheran) at the Pirates: Atlanta's starters have posted a 2.28 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 13 walks in the past nine games. And they do much better on the road than at home as they're 7-10 away from Atlanta, so the Bucs can't expect to have any wins mailed in.
- Congrats, poppa Marte. Starling's daughter Tiana has arrived; she's his third child. He's on paternity leave (1-3 days) and Alen Hanson will take Starling's spot on the roster until he returns.
- Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs has a post on Alen Hansen and his call to the show.
- The Pirates announced six new advertising partners, including JHK's old team sponsor Nexen Tires and local fav Kennywood park.