|Jordy's back in the saddle after a rare day off (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Lineup: Jordy Mercer SS, Starling Marte CF, Cutch RF, David Freese 1B, Fran Cervelli C, Josh Harrison 2B, Phil Gosselin 3B, Adam Frazier LF & Jameson Taillon P. Gregory is still out and Goose in; doesn't quite seem like an even swap. Fran's making his 10th start and 11th appearance in a dozen games; the Bucs have sure been riding him hard so far in April.
Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (0-0, 1.38 ERA) takes on Jon Lester (0-0, 1.64 ERA). JT has pretty much been all that in his first two starts without anything to show for it. He faced the Cubs twice last year, slashing 1-1/4.50 and was especially ill-treated at Wrigley. Lester is the fourth lefty the Bucs have faced this week but that may not be all bad. Lester was 2-1 against the Pirates last year in four starts, but pitched to a 3.80 ERA, 1.453 WHIP and lasted only 21 IP so he didn't dominate the lineup. He was tough on Pittsburgh prior to 2016, tho - he's 4-3/2.68 in eight career starts against the Pirates. And also beware that he's quite the homer. The Cubs have won his last 11 regular-season starts at Wrigley and Lester has slashed 9-0/1.41 in that span. It still sets up to be a nice matchup between two pitchers who have four starts and sub-two ERAs but oddly no wins.
- The Pirates are going after their first three-game sweep at Wrigley Field since September, 2014.
- Cutch ran his hitting skein to six games yesterday while Freeser's on-base streak ended at nine games after an 0-fer. Jordy has an eight game on-base streak going.
|And a tip o' the cap (photo via Athlete Promotions)|
- Adam Berry of MLB.com explains Cutch's hat tip after a long ball: "After every home run, Andrew McCutchen steps on home plate and reaches up with his right hand to tip his cap. It's a tribute to his wife, but also to the man who broke baseball's color barrier...McCutchen picked it up from Jackie Robinson -- the version of Robinson depicted in the movie '42,' at least. McCutchen watched Robinson tip his cap toward his wife, Rachel, after homering in the film and decided he would do the same." Good timing yesterday.
- Four is still the magic number. The Pirates are 5-0 when scoring four or more runs and 0-6 when being held to three or less.