Tonight, the Pittsburgh Pirates (53-53) will take their latest woes back to PNC Park to face the Cincinnati Reds (44-63). After the Pirates have gone 1-5 over the past six games verse teams under .500, they will now enter their third straight series against a losing opponent.
Jameson Taillon will throw the first pitch tonight at 7:05 PM. His 3.52 ERA ranks 6th in MLB among all starting pitchers. While his ERA is solid, his control has been impeccable as advertised in the minors. Through 46 innings in the majors, he has allowed just five walks on the year. As a matter of fact, he has not allowed a walk since June 24. In that time, he is 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA. The one and only thing that has truly plagued Taillon so far is the seven home runs he has allowed, which has equated to a 1.4 HR/9 rate.
Taillon has yet to face the Reds this season, but they rank 24th in average (.244) and 20th in runs (465). Not that any of this matters the way the Pirates have been playing, but it sets up the rookie for a solid matchup. What makes it even more enticing is the fact that the Reds have lost their starting right fielder, Jay Bruce, due to trade last week. Bruce was having a fabulous rebound season and will take his 25 home runs and 121 wRC+ to the Mets leaving the Reds with Scott Scheduler to take over RF duties.
On the Reds side, Anthony DeScalfani will pitch for the 11th time this season and holds a career best 2.93 ERA. Though his 3.75 FIP is in line with his career average, he is showing why the Reds wanted him dearly in the Mat Latos deal, which I believe anyone would chalk up that as a win for the Reds.
Andrew McCutchen is set to return to the lineup tonight. Twitter has started a campaign to give Andrew McCutchen a standing ovation when he comes to bat and the NS9 has come on board. After sitting out the Braves series, he returns to the lineup. Everyone around MLB is well aware of his struggles, but there is not many people harder on themselves than this man right here. The hope is with the few days off that Cutch will return fresh and clear minded into this playoff stretch.
Unfortunately, if the Pirates are serious about this playoff run they feel it involves John Jaso in the starting lineup still. Thankfully it won’t be in the leadoff spot, but he has batted .193/.288/.267 in 153 plate appearances since June 1. With David Freese playing extremely well this season and the #27 prospect in the game who is batting .310 in Indianapolis, they continue to put this man into the lineup consistently.