Lineup: Starling Marte LF, Adam Frazier 2B, Cutch CF, J-Bell 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Sean Rodriguez 3B, Elias Diaz C, Jordy Mercer and Steven Brault P. Eli appears to have worked his way into Clint's good graces lately and Freeser gets a break; he was way due for one.
|Steven Brault needs to pick it up... (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Pitchers: Steven Brault (0-0, 5.79) opens against Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 1.52). This is Brault's second start of the season after working from the pen. His last outing Tuesday was against the Cubs in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 win; he went five innings and gave up three runs on eight hits. He didn't appear very aggressive in working the strike zone; we'd like to see him pitch with more confidence and in attack mode. He hasn't faced Milwaukee this year; his career line against them is 0-2, 4.20 (15 IP, seven ER) in three 2016 starts. Woody was a Top-100 BA prospect coming into this year with a fastball-slider combo and a working-on-it change with a projection as a #3 pitcher. His AAA numbers weren't great this year (4.30 ERA) but he was excellent in 2016 at the lower levels. His peripherals were solid, and some attribute the dip to pitching in the hit-happy PCL. At any rate, Woodruff two-hit the Nationals over seven innings last time out, striking out eight, so he can deliver. This will be his first Bucco battle.
- What happened to the Bucco attack? This: J-Bell is 3-for-21, Starling is 2-for-23 and Cutch is hitting .218 since August 4th with just six extra-base hits. With Cervy (.342 OBP) and J-Hay (.339 OBP) out, there's not much oomph left with those three guys cold. The good news is Fraze is still hot and Freeser looks like he may be breaking out of his recent ice age (although he has a seat today; he's due for some down time).
- Not only has Pittsburgh dropped five in a row, but the club is 10 games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. The Pirates are 8-5 v Milwaukee, but just 2-4 at Miller Park. If you're wondering, the Brewers were busy sweeping the Cubs at Wrigley while the Cards were brooming the Bucs, so it's a NL Central horse race again with Milwaukee and St Louis both just two games back (and three behind in the wildcard).
- Charlie Wilmoth of MLB Trade Rumors has a couple of suggestions for the FO regarding next season.
|Nick hopin'for an extra option (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)|
- More on Nick Kingham: the Pirates are going to try for an extra option year (this was his third and final year) for him because he missed so much time due to injury. They have a pretty good chance of having it granted.
- Steven Brault is the seventh different starting pitcher used by the Pirates this season. The club record for fewest starting pitchers used in one season is seven (1902, 1972 and 1997). Brault was Indy's only rep on Baseball America's All-AAA team. No Pirates prospects made the AA or High-A AS teams.
- Ben Kaspick of Fangraph's Bullpen Report: "The Cardinals bullpen situation has been quite volatile since Trevor Rosenthal got hurt, so (Juan) Nicasio could easily grab the closer role." He already has a foot up for the job after closing out a pair of wins against his old mateys in his only two St Louis appearances; he had two saves all year as a Bucco.