Eye on the Enemy: Scouting the Pittsburgh Pirates as the Cubs begin their final road trip of the season
15-38, 16 games back of the Cubs in NL Central
Probable pitching matchups
Monday: Jon Lester (2-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. JT Brubaker (1-2, 4.79 ERA)
Tuesday: TBD vs. Steven Brault (1-3, 4.04 ERA)
Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks (6-4, 2.93) vs. Trevor Williams (1-8, 6.70 ERA)
Thursday: Alec Mills (5-4, 4.14 ERA) vs. Chad Kuhl (1-3, 5.03 ERA)
SS Kevin Newman – 10-day injured list on Sept. 20
SS Cole Tucker – 7-day concussion injured list on Sept. 17
RHP Kyle Crick – 10-day IL on Sept. 14
RHP Mitch Keller – 10-day IL on Sept. 14
RHP Keone Kela – 10-day IL since Aug. 27.
Additionally, RHP Chris Archer, RHP Tyler Bashlor, RHP Nick Burdi, RHP Michael Feliz, RHP Clay Holmes, RHP Jameson Taillon, C Luke Maile, INF Philip Evans and OF Kevin Kramer are all on the 60-day injured list.
It’s been a rough year for the Pirates, but their fans have seen top prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes succeed in the majors in his first go around. The rookie third baseman has a whopping .988 OPS in 65 plate appearances, looking all the part of a cornerstone for Pittsburgh. He’s the only regular starter with an OPS above .900 and is one of three starters who has an OPS above .700 – catcher Jacob Stallings (.721) and designated hitter Colin Moran (.770) being the only others.
That’s the trend for the Pittsburgh offense, which has struggled all year. They rank last in baseball in home runs (46), hits (190), runs (190), on-base percentage (.281), slugging percentage (.344) and OPS (.622).
Their starting staff has struggled all year, with Brault the active starter with the lowest ERA. Pittsburgh starters this season have combined to go 7-24 with a 5.26 ERA and a 1.410 WHIP. Opposing hitters see a bigger spike in production than normal when facing Pirates’ starters a second time through. Pirates starters are combining to allow just a .218 batting average the first time they face a hitter versus a .278 average in subsequent at-bats. There is also an opportunity to find success against the Pirates’ bullpen, too. Their pen has allowed 128 runs in 211.2 innings of work, and have a 4.55 ERA and 1.398 WHIP.