So We’re Going to Sweep the Yankees Then!?

Series Quick Look
Friday, April 21: Pirates 6, Yankees 3
Saturday, April 22, 4:05PM

Sunday, April 23, 1:35PM
at PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA


The Pirates have only faced the yankees 12 times in four separate series stemming from 2005 – 2015. Obviously, there is not lot of history between these two teams. At least playing against each other. These two teams are probably more notorious for the transactions between the two. Since 2006, the Pirates and Yankees have made a plethora of moves between them.

2006: Craig Wilson traded for Shawn Chacon.

2008: Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady traded for Daniel McCutchen, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Tabata, and Jeff Karstens.

2009: Romulo Sanchez traded for Eric Hacker. Also, Eric Hinske traded for Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson.

2012: Exicardo Cayones and Diego Moreno for A.J. Burnett. Also, Casey McGehee was traded for Chad Qualls.

2013: Kyle Hanes traded for Chris Stewart.

2014: Justin Wilson traded for Francisco Cervelli.

2015: (surprisingly nothing)

2016: Traded Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley for Ivan Nova. Also, the Pirates purchased Phil Coke from the Yankees.

2017: Traded a player to be named later for Johnny Barbato.

ALL-TIME RECORD: Yankees lead 9-3
Last matchup…May 17-18, 2015: Yankees took two of three verse the Pirates.

About the Yankees:

The Yankees are in the midst of a clear rebuild project they started last year, even though nobody in that organization will ever use the term ‘rebuild’. After already having a top farm and then getting a haul for Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, the Bronx Bombers look to be on their way to another dynasty. They are off to a hot start to begin the 2017 season as they are 10-5 in the very competitive AL East. The 6’7″ prospect, Aaron Judge, has been powering his way to a 180 wRC+ with a team leading five home runs. The Yankees currently rank 3rd in runs, 5th in average, 3rd in slugging, and 5th in stolen bases. Meanwhile, their team also ranks 2nd in ERA, 7th in strikeouts, and 4th in batting average against.


PROBABLES & NOTES: 

4/21: RHP Tyler Glasnow (12.15 ERA/6.07 FIP, 160 FIP-) vs.
LHP CC Sabathia (1.47 ERA/3.74 FIP, 93 FIP-)

In two starts this season, Glasnow has not looked the part of a top overall prospect in Major League Baseball. Though it has just been two starts, there were positive signs that came from his second start. After he gave up the four runs in the 1st inning, he settled down to only allow two more runs (one earned), two hits, two walks, and struck out five. Of the 11 runs that have been scored off of him this year, seven have come just in the 1st inning. It is pretty clear that Glasnow cannot give up a huge 1st inning against the Yankees or else it will be almost impossible to come back on this team right now. Sabathia is having quite the resurgent year in 2017. After checking himself into rehab just 18 months ago, he bounced back last year performing as an above average pitcher. Currently, he has the 7th best ERA in the A.L., though there has been some luck involved in those numbers. He isn’t the pitcher he once was when he signed his 7-year/$161M contract, but he’s been inducing more ground balls and allowing less to leave the park.

4/18: RHP Jameson Taillon (0.90 ERA/3.17 FIP, 83 FIP-) vs.
RHP Michael Pineda (3.44 ERA/2.70 FIP, 67 FIP-)

Jameson has looked the part of a top-tier pitcher this season. Whether you look at the numbers or just see his poise on the mound, he looks to have the ‘it factor’ people speak of. Already being a ground ball heavy pitcher, he’s induced a tick above last year at 55% in this small sample size. He has also allowed less hard hit contact while also gaining a full mile per hour on his fastball this year. He is averaging 95.2 MPH while topping out at 97 MPH. Michael Pineda was on pace for throwing a perfect game verse the Rays until Evan Longoria hit a double in the 7th inning. After struggling his first game this year, Pineda has pitched a total of 14.2 innings while giving up just three runs, walking one, and striking out 17. Pineda is looking to have a big season as he enters his walk year to become a free agent after this season.

4/19: RHP Ivan Nova (2.25 ERA/2.92 FIP, 77 FIP-) vs.
LHP Jordan Montgomery (4.22 ERA/4.70 FIP, 116 FIP-)

The Yankees sent Nova to the Pirates last year in a trade that many saw as a bust. Fast forward 84.2 innings later and Nova owns a 2.89 ERA for the Buccos with 60 strikeouts, five home runs allowed, 87 hits allows, and a mere THREE WALKS. To put this in perspective, Nova has four complete games compared to the only three walks he has allowed in this tenure. With him signing a three year $26 mil deal with the Pirates this offseason, it may be Nova having a good chuckle as he faces his former team. He should get a good shot to pull out the victory as he faces a rookie pitcher and #12 Yankees prospect in Jordan Montgomery. The 6’6″ pitcher commands a solid 94 MPH fastball while having three other above average pitches. Last year in both AA and AAA, he recorded a 2.13 ERA while striking out 8.7 per nine inning and allowing 2.9 walks per nine.


TV/RADIO INFO: 
TV (Friday): ROOT Sports Pittsburgh and YES.
TV (Saturday): ROOT Sports Pittsburgh & WPIX.
TV (Sunday): ROOT Sports Pittsburgh, MLB Network (out of market only) and YES.
Radio (All games): KDKA-FM 93.7

ON THE SHELF: 

Pittsburgh:
Jung Ho Kang (3B): Restricted List (March 11)—Work visa denied.
Starling Marte (CF): Suspended (April 18) – Use of PED’s.
New York:
Gary Sanchez (C): 10-Day DL (April 10)—Grade 1 biceps strain.
Tyler Austin (1B): 60-Day DL (April 2)—Broken foot.
Didi Gregorious (SS): 10-Day DL (April 2)—Right Shoulder.

CUTCH IS FIRED UP
As you all now know, Starling Marte was hit with an 80 game suspension for his PED use. Not only does that hurt this lineup, but it now forces Andrew McCutchen back to center field after an entire offseason of explaining why Cutch needs to move. Well, after going dead last among outfielders with a -28 defensive runs saved last year, Cutch is currently tied at 12th with a POSITIVE two defensive runs saved. He has currently played as our best outfielder and made it known the night Marte was suspended that he has a mission to prove this year. After making a tremendous catch to the wall, he made sure to let everyone know, “This is my spot! This is my spot!”

EVERYONE, FREESE!
Let’s just leave this note here again for this series as we have for the past three! Freese is now 15th in the N.L. in batting average (.326), 5th in on base % (.453) and 10th in wRC+ (176). He has also walked 10 times while striking out just four times in 53 plate appearances. Freese has been the only reliable hitter in this lineup, and now with the loss of Marte he will have to be relied on even more heavily. With the Pirates facing two lefties this series, I expect to see a good dose of high quality at bats by Mr. Freese.

SEARAGE PEN OF MISFIT TOYS
This bullpen is one that really lacks any star power or name recognition as it has over the years. Between the unknown diamond in Felipe Rivero, D-Backs castoff in Daniel Hudson, journeyman Wade LeBlanc, rookie Trevor Williams, and the ever slow moving Juan Nicasio, most away team fans will not be fearing the once brutal ‘Shark Tank’. Only Tony Watson is one that could be recognized, but I’m not sure there are many that fear him. Well, Watson has looked alright this season, but the others have looked even better. Rivero has looked every bit of a future closer in waiting with his 1.57 FIP and 25.7 K% to 2.9 BB% while averaging 96.7 MPH on his fastball this year. This unit (minus Antonio Bastardo) has a combined 2.78 ERA on the season.

KEEP THE BALL IN THE PARK
The Yankees rank 3rd in MLB in home runs. Between Aaron Judge, Chris Carter, Aaron Hicks, Chase Headley, and Greg Bird, this team can pack a punch. The Pirates pitchers must do everything to limit the long ball this series as they’ve done a decent job of so far. The three starters this series have allowed just a total of three homers this season, while the bullpen has allowed three home runs in 42.1 innings (minus Bastardo again).

TIME TO BREAK OUT THE BATS
Just a year ago, people were saying the Pirates bats weren’t sustainable when they were leading the majors in almost every offensive category. Well, I am here to tell you that their bats are not sustainable again this year. Though, it is for a different reason. Currently, the Pirates rank 20th in batting average (.229) and on base % (.302). With that said, they actually lead MLB in the least amount of strikeouts (101). There really just hasn’t been a whole lot going when they make contact. Pittsburgh currently ranks 24th in BABIP (.266), which means they’re getting a lot of contact, but totaling a lot of outs. The team is making some decent contact as Adam Frazier, Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Josh Bell all rank in the top 100 of hits with exit velocity > 95 MPH, while David Freese ranks 111 and Cervelli ranks 122. With the Yankees ranking 19th in baseball with -3 defensive runs saved, their lesser defense might give the Pirates the break they need to let loose with the sticks.

NEXT UP:
The Pirates will take on the Cubs for the second time this year. The three-game series will be played at PNC Park.

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