The Pirates look to take control of the season when the cross state rival Philadelphia Phillies comes to PNC Park for a three game series. The road trip has not been good to Pittsburgh since the all-star break where the Pirates went 1-5 vs division rivals Cubs and Cardinals.
The Phillies walk into PNC Park Friday night after a lackluster showing at home where they posted a 3-4 record against the Nationals and Dodgers. The Phillies beat the Dodgers yesterday afternoon while the Pirates had an of day to focus on the upcoming series.
Both teams head into the series trying to stay relevant in their respected divisions after an up and down first half of baseball. Pirates will look to shut down the biggest free agent signing of the off-season in Bryce Harper and company in hopes of turning around what has been an ugly start to the 2nd half of the season for the Pirates.
Sunday, 1:35 p.m – Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.87 ERA) vs. Joe Musgrove (6-8, 4.31 ERA)
TV: AT&T SportsNet-PIT
All games EST
–Bryce Harper has under preformed to the mega contract he signed this off-season but still posting some good numbers in the first half. Harper is hitting 16 HRs with 62 RBIs while recording a .253 batting average in the first half of baseball. These aren’t the types of numbers that Philly fans thought they would get from Harper when he signed but he is getting comfortable in his new home moving on from DC.
–Rhys Hoskins has carried over his successful sophomore season into his third year going yard 20 times thus far this season. Hopkins had an explosive sophomore season hitting 24 Hrs and posting a .251 ISO. Currently, Hopkins is posting a season .264 ISO while posting career high slashes of .261 /.400 /.526. Hoskins, as it stands, is the most dangerous hitter in the lineup and is the key player to watch out for in this 3 game series.
-A name every Pittsburgh fan should know at this point is Jake Arrieta. The former Cubs Ace now in Philly is having a modest year with an ERA of 4.50 ERA with a record of 8-7 on the season. Though the numbers in the first half have been more tempered than we are used to seeing from Arrieta, he has come out hot from the All-star break with a solid five inning start only allowing 1 earned run. He looks to shut down the hot bats of the Pirates by setting the tone for the series.
-Zack Eflin is having a solid 2nd year for a young pitcher. His ERA has come down from 4.36 last year to now having a 4.16 in the half of season. Eflin may have a 7-9 record but he is improving in some key stats this season by increasing his LOB% by 7.4% this season stranding players on base 75.8% of the time. His K/9 has dropped down from 8.65 to 7.47 but is walking less batters this season with a BB/9 if 2.29 from last year’s 2.60.
–Vince Velasquez will be closing out the series Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. He’s making his 12th start of the season and is looking to get through with fewer struggles. Velasquez has had some real struggles when seeing the batters for the 3rd through, his Ks drop down almost by half, he walks more players, and is much more likely to give up a HR.
Today’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 EST on ATT SportsNet-PIT.