Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.00) kicks it off against Doug Fister (11-8, 3.76). JT has gone six innings or more (once) in his last seven appearances and given up no more than three earned runs in any game during that span, yielding a three-spot just twice. He's pretty much as advertised, with the only caution a tendency to leave pitches up. Jamo is working on that, too, with 48 ground outs (63%) to 29 fly outs in the last four games. Fister doesn't blow the ball past people (six K/nine innings), but he's only given up more than three runs five times in 24 starts, so the 32-year-old vet still knows how to get guys out. Taillon has never met the 'Stros, while Fister last faced the Pirates in 2015 as a Nat and in his one outing gave up four runs and nine hits over five innings.
|Jameson Taillon (photo MLB Pipeline)|
Lineup: Josh 2B, Starling Marte LF, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Freeser 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy SS, Jamo P. Ding dong, Bell gets a second straight start.
Preview: This is the second interleague series between the teams that were once Central Division rivals and the Astros' first trip to PNC since 2013. Houston's attack is led by the middle infielders, Jose Altuve (.365, 20 HR) & Carlos Correa (.272, 18 HR), and they have seven guys with double digit homers. Like the Bucs, they stumbled after the ASG, but are rolling into town on a three-game streak while the Bucs are on a three game downer. Both clubs have spent the campaign running hot and cold and are in the wildcard hunt, but on the outside looking in right now. The records are pretty similar - Houston is 64-60, Pittsburgh 62-59, and it has the makings of a pretty good tussle this week.
- The Pirates and David Freese have agreed on a two-year extension with a club option for 2019. Jon Heyman tweets that the contract is for $6.25M in '17 and $4.25M in '18 with a $6M team option or $500K buyout in '19. That's $11M guaranteed, which is certainly reasonable. Glad to see the Bucco "financial flexibility" kick in.
- Fangraph's Jeff Sullivan is all aboard the Keon Broxton bandwagon. Broxton, you may recall, was part of the package for Jason Rogers, who was bumped out of the picture by David Freese, maybe permanently as Rogers is out of options in 2017.