The Pirates are hurting. They have ten players on the injured list and front-line players Starling Marte and Josh Bell have sat out a few games with minor ailments. They're also, like the Mariners, coming to the end of a disappointing season that will see them finish in last place in their division.
Led by Bell and Marte—who may or may not play in this series—the Pittsburgh offense ranks first in the National League in batting average. It also ranks first in strikeouts and next-to-last in walks, so discipline is not a strength. Bell, shortstop Kevin Newman, and left fielder Bryan Reynolds are exceptions, all with on-base percentages over .350, and though all Pirate regulars have batting averages over .270 (save platoon catcher Elías Díaz, at .249), only Bell, Reynolds, and infielder Adam Frazier have topped 30 walks. And so many whiffs—Bell, Reynolds, and third baseman Colin Moran are already well over 100 Ks and Marte will get there soon.
Pitching is why the Pirates languish in fifth place—Pittsburgh is second-to-last among National League teams in ERA and hits allowed; also third-to-last in homers surrendered and saves. Despite the low saves mark, they do have a legit closer in All-Star Felipe Vazquez; at 5-1, 1.65 ERA, 90 Ks, and an 0.933 WHIP, Vazquez has elite numbers in the ninth inning. (LATE NOTE—Vazquez may be on his way to a suspension following felony charges this week. See manager box.) No starting pitcher has impressed much, though. The ace is Joe Musgrove, who has good strikeout and walk numbers but is pretty middling otherwise, pitching to a worse ERA this year than his career 4.40 mark and giving up more than one hit per inning. Musgrove may or mat not pitch the series finale on Thursday afternoon, the Pirates haven't announced yet, but it would be his turn in the rotation. Tuesday and Wednesday's starters will be rookies Mitch Keller and Dario Agrazal. Keller has been whacked around pretty good since his promotion to the big leagues, averaging just over four innings per start and racking up an 8.29 ERA and WHIP of nearly 1.9. Agrazal has fared somewhat better, but his 4.91 ERA and 1.396 WHIP isn't at all scary. Neither of the right-handers were terribly good at Triple-A Indianapolis either, though Keller's numbers were decent (7-5, 3.56 ERA, 123 Ks).
The M's will go with Marco Gonzales, fresh from (finally) earning his 15th win last week; Justin Dunn, who flamed out in his Major League debut, walking five and getting pulled before finishing the first inning against the Reds; and Yusei Kikuchi, who was battered by the White Sox last Friday night.
Who’s Hot & Not
Last 10 games
.323/.344/.419, 2 XBH, 5 RBI
.366/.435/.512, 5 XBH, 5 RBI, 2 SB
.323/.432/.419, 2 XBH, 5 RBI, 1 SB
.214/.250/.310, 4 2B, 2 RBI, 14 K
.227/.308/.364, 1 HR, 3 RBI
.212/.235/.273, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 10 K
Last 3 series vs. Seattle
|7/27/16||PIT 10, SEA 1|
|7/26/16||SEA 7, PIT 4|
|6/29/16||PIT 8, SEA 1|
|6/28/16||SEA 5, PIT 2|
|6/26/13||PIT 4, SEA 2|
|6/25/13||PIT 9, SEA 4|
|5/8/13||SEA 2, PIT 1|
|5/7/13||PIT 4, SEA 1|
|6/21/07||SEA 3, PIT 0|
|6/20/07||SEA 7, PIT 0|
|6/19/07||PIT 5, SEA 3|
Clint Hurdle: A pennant winner as manager of the Colorado Rockies in 2007, Hurdle has been with Pittsburgh since 2011 and was NL Manager of the Year in 2013. His clubhouse philosophy is based on "open discussion," which is sometimes helpful, sometimes not, but it does let everyone know where they stand. Hurdle's view of managing extends beyond the ballfield, he wants to help his charges as people as well as pitchers and hitters. "You’re going to be ex-players longer than players," he's been known to tell his team. He wants to know about their non-baseball hobbies and family lives. And he wants to know what's bugging them. "I believe in daily cleansing and reboot," Hurdle said. A lot of that attitude may stem from his ongoing recovery from alcoholism, and he recently marked 20 years sober. When players ask him how he got his good judgment, he answers candidly, "from bad judgment."
This week, Hurdle was confronted with a serious player problem as closer Felipe Vazquez was charged with statutory assault and "providing obscene material to minors." In keeping with his open discussion mandate, Hurdle addressed his team regarding the situation and said they "talked about a lot of different emotions [that] were stirred up, and how we connect and support our way through those emotions, how we continue to find ways to improve and hold ourselves to a high standard on and off the field, and what can we do from an organizational standpoint to help with any questions, any thoughts."
Parker Markel: One of many (many) relievers to find his way in and out of the Seattle organization this year, Markel appeared in five games as a Mariner this May and July. He wasn't good; in 42⁄3 innings he allowed eight earned runs for a 15.43 ERA. He's been a little better since hooking on with Pittsburgh, pitching to an ERA just under 8.00 in ten appearances, but that's hardly anything to crow about.
|Pittsburgh Pirates||(1891 - present)|
|World Champions:||1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, 1979|
|League Champions:||1903, 1927|
|Division Titles:||1970, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1990, 1991, 1992|