Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday: ChiTown v Steel City, Nova v Jake, Lineup, Notes

Tonight: First pitch is at 8:15 as it's a Fox Sports Saturday Night Game, covered radio-side by 93.7 The Fan. It's also Jordy Mercer Bobblehead night for the first 20,000 fans.

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Fran Cervelli C, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, John Jaso LF, Jordy Mercer SS & Ivan Nova P. J-Hay gets a rest day (he's 2-for-26 against Jake), tho it seems Gregory is more in need of a break.

Mr Dependable on the bump (image via Positively Pittsburgh)

Pitchers: Ivan Nova (6-4, 2.83) twirls against Jake Arrieta (6-4, 4.68). Ivan's last outing was back on form as Clint let him loose for six and then let the pen take over. He's won three of his last four decisions and five of his last seven. His six-inning+ streak has reached 13 starts. Nova is the first Pittsburgh pitcher to do so since Eddie Solomon in 1981, who went six+ in his first 17 starts. Bossa Nova likes cookin' at home - he's gone 4-2 with a 2.29 ERA in six starts at PNC Park. He faced the Cubs once, getting a late September no decision last year at PNC Park after going 5-1/3 IP and surrendering a run on four hits. Jake has taken quite the slide this year; his velo is down and the Chi-town story is that he's been pitching with a bad thumb that sometimes splits open during games, as it has in his last two outings. He hasn't tossed mid-outing side sessions for a couple of starts now; whether that helps or not is TBD as they Cubs say the slice has healed. Injury aside, the vaunted curse he had on the Bucs was countered last year when Jake went 3-2/4.93 against the Pirates in six starts. He had a no-decision in early April when he went 5-2/3 IP and gave up three runs at PNC Park in a game the Bucs eventually won 8-7.

  • Andrew has a seven-game hitting streak (13-for-26, .500) and is hitting .432 (19-for-44) in his last 11 contests. No surprise there; June has traditionally been Cutch's take-off time. His .314 career batting average in June since 2009 ranks first among NL players (min: 750 AB) and third among all MLB players behind Miguel Cabrera (.327) and Adrian Beltre (.321). Cutch’s 144 RBI total ranks third among all players behind Albert Pujols (169) and Cabrera (153) during that span.
  • Another Nova factoid: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other Pittsburgh pitcher since 1900 has walked seven or fewer batters in his first 13 starts of a season. Babe Adams issued only five walks in his first 13 starts in 1920 and did it again in 1922 when he walked six in his first 13 assignments.
  • Draft hot take by JJ Cooper of Baseball America: "In recent years, Pittsburgh has emphasized productive college players at the top of its draft. This year it went for more upside and more risk with four preps." It'll be interesting tracking the young blood as they move through the system; the Bucs have have some big hits and big flops in their prep picks.
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