Tonight’s game is number 100 for the Pirates in this 2016 season and probably the last time the Mariners appear at PNC Park in like seven years.
After last night’s loss, pitching is paramount and Pirates ace Gerrit Cole takes the mound with his 2.99 ERA. Yes, that’s right he’s an ace. The yinzers have been hard on Cole this season as he’s not getting the respect he deserves. Cole had a late start to the season due to injury(missing all of ST), and spent about a month on the DL this season and still has a sub 3.00 ERA with a 2.96 FIP. Cole is the last of the Pirates problems. I expect a solid start from him tonight as the Bucs try to split the season series with the Mariners.
The Pirates will face LHP James Paxton, who’s enjoying a nice season as indicated by his 3.19 FIP, which is a run lower than his 4.18 ERA. The Canadian left-hander has never faced the Pirates in his four-year career and he’s only faced three active Pirates before in his career—David Freese, Eric Fryer and Sean Rodriguez. Freese is 5-for-17 with two home runs against Paxton. Freese is in the lineup at first base as Jaso sits against the lefty. Freese is hitting .328/.411/.594 against southpaws this season. Paxton has 55 strikeouts in 60 innings, but he’s given up 75 hits already this season. He’s only given up five home runs so far this season, which pitching at Safeco Field helps with that, but Paxton is one of the few pitchers who actually has a better ERA on the road (3.62) than at home (4.82).
Polanco also sits against the lefty and JHay is back in the lineup after Adam Frazier‘s 2-for-4 night. And Mercer will lead off with an .869 OPS against lefthanders.
The Bucs sit at 51-48 and will have another off day tomorrow before heading to Milwaukee for a three-game series at the house of horrors Miller Park.
Here’s the Pirates North Shore Nine tonight: