Thursday, September 8, 2016

Thursday: Ivan Nova v Dan Straily, Lineup, Preview, Notes

Tonight: The series opens at 7:05 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. It's also Pittsburgh's favorite night out - yes, Zambelli Fireworks will fly after the game as a replacement for the originally scheduled Frankie bobblehead freebie.

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (11-6, 4.34; 4-0, 2.89 w/Pirates) kicks off the series against Dan Straily (11-7, 3.83). Nova's last three starts have been stellar - four runs, 14 hits in 21 IP - and he's been filling up the strike zone with just two walks and HBP during that span. His first Bucco appearance was against Cincy, and he won, giving up three runs on six hits (two of which went yard) in seven innings. Straily's been on a roll of his own; he's only given up more than three runs in a start once since July (though he did have his meltdown just a couple of turns ago). He owns a pair of strong outings against the Pirates this year, tossing 12 IP and surrendering just four runs on seven hits. If it goes by form, the contest should be a low scoring, grinder affair.

Ivan Nova is first up in the Reds series (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Josh Bell RF, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, David Freese 1B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy SS, Nova P. Starling's back is still cranky, and Bell is getting the start in his long-time but now part-time OF position.

Preview: The Reds have been pesky against the Pirates with a 5-6 record, and Pittsburgh faces them eight times in the next dozen games with a pair of four game home-and-home series. The Reds have dropped 8-of-10 coming into town while the Bucs have just snapped an eight game losing string, so neither club is in clover right now. In Cincinnati's recent skid, the offense has taken a dive; they've scored more than three runs just once in their last 10 matches while the Buccos have alternated between a sputtering offense and bad pitching. The Pirates are running out of tomorrows and have to take advantage of the bottom dwellers now if they hope to remain pertinent in the closing weeks.

  • Add another achy Bucco to the list - it seems that AJ Schugel hasn't been called on lately because he's recently been down with the dreaded "arm discomfort." He hasn't tossed yet in September and is getting treated for a bum shoulder.
  • Cole Train will throw a side session tomorrow and is expected to rejoin the roster on Monday.
  • In his first four seasons, Starling Marte has put up a better defensive OF-WAR than even Roberto Clemente per Baseball Reference
  • The Cutch line in 2016: .250/.326/.417/.744, all single season career lows. His previous floors were .259 BA (2011), .364 OBP (2011), .449 SLUG (2010) & .814 OPS (2010). However, the bright spot is that he's still happening with RISP, posting a .289/.427/.430/.856 slash.
  • Gregory Polanco was included among the 14 players who had strong under the radar seasons in 2016 per Anthony Castrovince of Sports on Earth.
  • No Billy Hamilton this series, as he's recovering from a strained left oblique.  
  • MLB Pipeline named Tyler Glasnow as its Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

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