The Pirates are coming home to open up PNC today after being swept in Cincinnati and rebounding to win their Milwaukee series two games to one. The offense started to click a little better in the Brewers series as the team has a +1 run differential after scoring eight total runs against the Reds and bouncing back to score 16 against Milwaukee (including being shut out one game). After the first week of the season the Pirates are sitting at 18 in team average (.228) and 14th in slugging percentage (.366) while score a total of 24 runs (16th). The pitching has been decent in keeping runners off base with the 9th best WHIP (1.11) in the Majors along with a .217 batting average against (11th), but a lot of it must be attributed to the bullpen with only 2 quality starts (26th) for the staff.
Detroit is coming off yet another sweep and taking their record to 6-0, the best start to the season for a Detroit team since the ’85 Tigers. It’s obvious the team has a ton of fight as they came back numerous times in dramatic fashion over the weekend. The offense is tops in the Majors in runs scored (47), has the best team average (.355), best on base (.433), and best slugging percentage (.550), while the pitching slipped slightly but is still one of the best with a 2.00 team ERA (2nd), 1.02 WHIP (4th) and a .205 batting average against (5th). This is going to be an interesting series for Detroit as the Pirates have a little more bang and consistency in their lineup, however the pitching may be slightly weaker than Cleveland’s.
My x-factor of the series: Victor Martinez
Pitching Match-ups @ PNC Park
Who to Watch (Pittsburgh)
- Francisco Liriano, SP – Liriano threw well against the Cincinnati Reds but got the no decision after 7 innings of 2 hit, 2 earned run ball. Liriano did walk 3, but struck out 7
- Pedro Alvarez, 1B – Alvarez crushed a pair of home runs last week against Cincinnati and Milwaukee for 2 of his 6 hits (.300 avg), but is prone to strike out a bunch too (8 K’s)
- Fancisco Cervelli, C – Cervelli, the teams primary catcher is off to a good start, with a team best .357 avg (10+ ab’s), with a pair of doubles and an RBI
Who to Watch (Detroit)
- Jose Iglesias, SS – Shockingly, Iglesias is leading the AL in hitting the first week of the season with a .526 average
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B – Cabrera really turned it on in Cleveland where he was an amazing 11 for 14 which included his first two homers of the season Sunday.
- Anibal Sanchez, SP – Anibal did a great job shutting down the Twins his last time out, going 6 2/3 with 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6. This Pirates lineup will be a much better challenge
Who Not to Watch (Pittsburgh)
- Gerrit Cole, SP – Cole also got a no decision against the Reds last week, however they scored 3 on him in 5 innings on 5 hits, including a homer
- Starling Marte, OF – The young outfielder is off to a rough start with a .136 average and 12 strike outs! Marte does have a home run as one of his three hits though
- Josh Harrison, 3B – Harrison is just a tick above Marte in average with a .158 tally
Who Not to Watch (Detroit)
- Rajai Davis, OF – Rajai’s season is getting off to a slow start while platooning with Anthony Gose as he’s just 1-7 at the dish, but does have 3 steals
- Nick Castellanos, 3B – Nick C continued to struggle against Cleveland, although it looked at times like he was willing to go to the opposite field with his swing which is start down the right track. Currently, Nick is hitting .174 but does have a .720 OPS
- Alfredo Simon, SP – Was cruising a long against Cleveland until the 6th Simon gave up 7 hits and 2 walks, and normally doesn’t strike out a lot as he had just 3. A 1.69 WHIP won’t fly over the season for as soft as he throws.
Series Prediction: Tigers win 2-1
Next Series: 3 vs. Chicago White Sox (2-4)