Photo: Keith Allison
New York Mets (19-26) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (22-26)
Time: Friday – 7:05
The Pirates were originally scheduled to face Zach Wheeler, Tommy Milone, and Matt Harvey. Unfortunately, there was poor weather in New York last night, so the Mets decided to push deGrom back a day to ensure his start would not be shortened. Now instead of missing the Mets ace, they are stuck with facing him in the series opener.
Jacob deGrom was originally a shortstop in college. During his junior year, his coach designated him as the teams starting shortstop, and the teams closer. deGrom eventually made the move to the starting rotation once his team had suffered a multitude of injuries. The decision to turn deGrom into a starting pitcher obviously paid off dividends for deGrom and the Mets.
deGrom features a 5 pitch repertoire, a career ERA south of 3, and a weirdly written last name. His 5 pitch repertoire has allowed him to get 15.3% swinging strikes this year, which is the third most for a starting pitcher in the league. He has absolutely devastating stuff, and it is very unfortunate that the Mets decided to push him back a day to face us. deGrom has a 1.38 FIP against the Pirates over his career. This will be, without a doubt, the Pirates biggest challenge this series.
Chad Kuhl is coming off a solid performance against the Phillies. He allowed just one hit over 5 innings and struckout 5 batters. By xwOBA, he had the 14th most dominant start of any pitcher this year. I obviously still think Kuhl is due for a breakout season, and he showed why last time out.
Even with the Mets best pitcher on the mound, the Pirates are actually early favorites in this one. Maybe Vegas agrees that the Pirates still have a chance at the playoffs?
Time: Saturday – 7:15 (FOX)
A Gerrit Cole vs Tommy Milone matchup was poised to be the mismatch of the year. But unfortunately for the Pirates, Tommy Milone was place on the DL with a sprained left knee.
Zack Wheeler missed all of the 2015 season with an elbow injury, and pitched exactly one inning in 2016. Usually coming back from Tommy John surgery, the last thing to fully return for pitchers is their command. He never had great control, but this year he is walking 10.9% of the batters he faces. That is 13th worst for qualified starters. You never know what you are going to get with Wheeler, as in 3 of his 8 starts he’s walked just as many batters as he has struckout. He’s coming off a start in which he walked 5 and struckout 5, and hopefully thats the Wheeler the Pirates will get to face.
Gerrit wasn’t so great last time out, but that’s OK. It was his first time giving up more than 2 runs since April 9th. He can’t be perfect every time out, but hopefully he manages to get things back together in this start. The only Met that has given Cole trouble throughout his career is Jay Bruce. However, Michael Conforto, Neil Walker, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, and Asdrubal Cabrera have all been swinging a hot bat lately. Conforto and Duda really crush right handed pitchers, and well… you already know what Neil Walker brings to the table.
Time: Sunday – 8:00 (ESPN)
The Dark Knight will take on the Pirates on Sunday. ESPN will be in town for Sunday Night Baseball, in what could be a high scoring game. Matt Harvey is not even close to being the player he was just a few years ago. Last season, Harvey posted a 4.86 ERA. The three seasons prior to that, he didn’t have an ERA above 3 in a single season. He is walking nearly twice as many batters compared to his career average, and his strikeout rate has also plummeted to a career low. David Freese, Francisco Cervelli, Josh Harrison, Andrew McCutchen, Jordy Mercer, Gregory Polanco, and Chris Stewart have all seen Harvey throughout their careers. However, Harvey is such a different pitcher now, it’s pointless to look at their history.
Tyler Glasnow has now pitched 3 quality starts in his last 5 outings. Though his recent starts have been an improvement, they still haven’t been very pretty. He’s still walking over 11% of the batters he faces, and has a 5.72 FIP over his last 5 starts. I’m not sure the Mets will be Glasnow’s biggest enemy in this one, I think it might be ESPN. I don’t like accusing players of being headcases, but I think Glasnow may be a headcase. I hope he doesn’t let the attention that ESPN brings get to his head.
The Pirates are now just 4 games back in the division. Right now, they have just an 8.8% chance to make the playoffs. But, their offense has picked it up these last couple games, and a series win against the Mets will certainly help their chances of making the playoffs as the Mets are also fighting for a wild card spot.