After pulling off the rare feat of getting swept in two series in two days, the Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves with a 3-6 record losing four straight.
Things won’t be getting any easier for the Pittsburgh Pirates. After a six game road trip against the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh will return home to play the New York Yankees and Cubs again. This 12-game stretch could make or break the team. For now, we focus on the Cubs this weekend and some of the key matchups.
Gerrit Cole vs Cubs offense
Cole had a quality start in his last outing against the Atlanta Braves going six innings giving up three runs. Two of those runs were given up in the first inning so Cole did a pretty good job of settling in. This time around, Cole will need to be more sharp as the Cubs have a much more potent offense than the Braves.
The power righty has had success at Wrigley Field over his career. In seven starts, Cole is 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA. In 45 innings pitched, Cole has 55 strikeouts and just seven walks. He has never given up a home run at Wrigley Field. Against the Cubs last season, Cole had one bad and one outstanding start. The outstanding start was his best start of the season. It came at Wrigley Field. On that day, Cole went eight innings and gave up three hits. He struck out seven and didn’t record a walk.
Today’s start against the Cubs will be interesting. Gerrit Cole has history on his side but the team is struggling. Can he be the stopper? After two less than amazing starts, Cole has a tall task ahead of him against the World Champs in their own house.
Tyler Glasnow vs himself
Glasnow was dreadful in his first start of the season. He didn’t get through the second inning and gave up five runs on four hits with five walks. Two of those walks came with the bases loaded. He flat out couldn’t find any of his pitches. This time, against the patient hitting Cubs, Glasnow will need to throw strikes. Obviously.
More than that, he needs to trust himself and the people surrounding him. In his first start against the Reds, Francisco Cervelli came out to talk to his young pitcher and it looked as though Glasnow did all of the talking. It looked like they weren’t cooperating with each other. That can’t happen.
Tomorrow, Glasnow will need to bring his stuff if the Pirates even want a chance of winning. The opposing starter will be Jake Arrieta. Yes, the Pirates had success against Arrieta last year, but that was last year. He may not have the hardest time carving through a Pirate lineup that is one for their last 30 with runners in scoring position. For Glasnow personally, this start is huge. A good or great start could add a boost of confidence and put him on the right track. A bad start will do the exact opposite.
Pittsburgh Pirates offense vs Cubs starters
The Pirates offense will have their work cut out for them this weekend. Kyle Hendricks today, Jake Arrieta tomorrow, and Jon Lester on Sunday. All three were Cy Young candidates last season. The Pirates offense is struggling. They’ve scored only 28 runs in nine games. That is barely three runs a game. If there were ever a time to turn it on, today would be a good start.
Against Kyle Hendricks, Gregory Polanco has had the most success going 7-17 with a home run and two doubles. Other than that, nobody else is really lighting him up. Against Jake Arrieta, Josh Bell is 3-5 with a home run and two walks. Andrew McCutchen is 11-40 with four doubles. Nobody else has done much damage. Against Jon Lester, David Freese is 5-14. Starling Marte is 5-17 with a double. Jordy Mercer is 4-13 with a home run and two doubles. That’s about it in terms of success.
This weekend will be a tough one for the Pirates. The offense has been ice cold. The pitchers have been on and off. The team simply doesn’t have it in the early stages of this season. Now they play the Cubs. Things could get messy. But hey, by the laws of baseball the Pittsburgh Pirates may very well end up sweeping this series. Then again, they could lose another seven straight.