After the Pirates went streaking going 9-2, they found themselves hurting to find offense and have lost 5 of the past 6. The Miami series was not pretty as they held a no hitter in back to back games deep into the ball game. With many Pirates fans praying to get back to the winning ways, the Angels have come into town, hopefully answering those prayers.
The Angels are 24-29 and hurting dearly for starting pitching and offense. Yes, of course we all know Mike Trout and the presence he brings to any offense, but when you take away Trout from this offense, the Angels are a .249 batting average team with very little power and speed. Albert Pujols has never been the same Machine since he signed his mega contract in L.A. and is currently batting just .230. The second best player on this team has been 28 year old Kole Calhoun who is batting .294 but just slugging .423. They are typically in the bottom half of every offensive statistic which certainly bodes well for the Pirates pitching staff.
Opposed from their offense, their pitching has been in turmoil this season. Young gun, Andrew Heaney hit the DL after just one start this year with elbow discomfort and has yet to return from rehabbing it. Not long ago, Garrett Richards was said to need Tommy John surgery, but then opted to go with rehab instead and will look to come back within a few months. These were scheduled to be the Angels top two pitchers on a staff that was thin to begin with. Now, Nick Tropeano leads the way with a 3.25 ERA while the rest of the starters, well we will break down how awful they have been individually this weekend.
Let’s start with tonights starting pitcher, Jered Weaver. It feels almost ages ago since Jered Weaver was one of the more dominant pitchers of the game. It was 2011 when he won 18 games while pitching 235 innings of 2.41 ERA baseball and striking out 198 batters. He landed 2nd in Cy Young voting and got his payday by signing a five year $85 million deal. Since then, as most players seem to do while signing those big extensions that late in their career, his numbers have fallen off drastically. He currently holds a 5.40 ERA this season with a 1.50 WHIP. He has allowed a whopping 73 hits in just 58 innings of work while striking out just 35 batters.
His FIP suggests this is not an anomaly as would his decreased velocity. In his prime, Weaver was sitting at around 90 MPH on his fastball, but has seen it drop to around 83 MPH, which is even a two MPH drop from just last year. The Pirates should eat a right handed pitcher like this alive, even if they aren’t at full strength.
Taking the mound tonight for the Pirates will be Francisco Liriano. Frankie also has had a disappointing season, but it certainly isn’t due to diminished velocity. As mentioned last week (Frankie Needs To Get His Slider Going), hitters are not being fooled by his slider. I am not sure if tonight is truly a game to see Frankie get back on track. With all the stats L.A. struggles in offensively, they lead the A.L. in the least amount of strikeouts. Liriano is going to need to show great command tonight and keep the ball low in the zone to find success tonight.
Tonight’s offense will be a little light as Francisco Cervelli and Jordy Mercer take a seat due to their injuries last night. Andrew McCutchen also was pulled from the game due to swelling in his thumb, but returns to action tonight in the two hole. Red hot, Gregory Polanco, had the night off last night with discomfort in his foot, but returns to action today. I would definitely say to look for Polanco having a huge game tonight. As if he isn’t having a great season as it is, He has found great success against soft tossing RHP this year.
- Jaso 1B
- McCutchen CF
- Polanco RF
- Marte LF
- Kang 3B
- Harrison 2B
- Rodriguez SS
- Stewart C
- Liriano P