Lineup: Jordy SS, Josh Harrison 3B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, David Freese 1B, Jose Osuna RF, Phil Gosselin 2B, Stew C & Ivan Nova P. A lefty on the hill has scrubbed Fraze and J-Bell from the lineup, and we are a little surprised that Goose continues to get the spot starts instead of Alen Hanson. Fran is off thx to day-following-night game. He did jog out a grounder in yesterday's game, but no word on whether it was his pride or bod that was hurt (EDIT: Clint said it was just "game fatigue" so a day off seems right on time). And yah, lineups like this seem to beg for defensive implosions, but Clint doesn't have a lot of good options when a southpaw takes the hill.
|Freeser shifts to first today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Pitchers: Ivan Nova (1-2, 2.25) goes against Jordan Montgomery (1-0, 4.22). Ivan has put together three nice starts but hasn't had much support by the bats yet; hopefully that will even out as the season goes on. His calling card as a Bucco remains the same - throw strikes and make them hit your pitch. In three games he's only K'ed eight but has yet to issue a walk. Today marks a family reunion for Nova. He spent seven seasons in pinstripes and this will be his first appearance against his former teammates. 24-year-old rookie Montgomery, a 2014 fourth round pick out of South Carolina, has being a 6'6" lefty with a good downhill delivery going for him. Also in his favor is a four-pitch mix - fastball, curveball, cutter, and changeup. A lot depends on his command - he's walked four in his 10-2/3 IP and also fanned 11.
|Nova goes against his home boys (photo Joe Guzy/Pirates)|
- Josh Bell has hit safely in six straight games, going 7-for-21 with two homers.
- Freeser has hit safely in four straight games and reached base safely in 15-of-16 contests. He ranks sixth in the NL with a .443 OBP. Cutch is also feelin' it with hits in 11-of-12 games.
- Speaking of OBP, leadoff has not been an Achilles heel so far for the Bucs - the #1 hitters have reached at a .367 OBP clip. That's mostly due to Fraze, who is getting aboard at a .412 rate in his seven games at leadoff. The Bucco issues against lefties can partially be explained by topping the order with Jordy, who in six games has a .296 OBP. J-Hay has been the man twice and has a .375 OBP, so that's why you see him there; it's not a case of Clintsanity.
- Gregory is 0-for-13 since returning full-time from his groin/shoulder injuries.
- BTW, yesterday's misjudged ball by Cutch and Gregory was called by both, so they obviously need some more time together to mesh. The near collision and ensuing error resulted when Polanco lost the ball in the sun a step or two away from the catch after Andrew had peeled off the ball.