Have the Pittsburgh Pirates missed their window and become a perennially disappointing team? Andrew McCutchen has become a slightly above average outfielder, accumulating a 0.8 WAR so far this season - but the 80 game suspension of Starling Marte has moved him back to centerfield, where he has been less than adequate for the past few seasons. Gerrit Cole has been not-an-ace in his ace role this season. Cole has a 4.54 ERA and a WHIP of 1.30 this season, allowing 15 homeruns in 83.1 innings of work. His xFIP is a bit better at 4.03. Cole’s K/9 rate has fallen from 9.0 in 2014 to 7.45 this year, with a steady drop each season.
The Pirates sit 13th in the NL in OPS, and are 14th in homers with 65. Their team ERA is 4.40, eighth in the league - and actually behind the seventh place Brewers. They have allowed 81 homers, only 5 fewer than Milwaukee.
All of this explains why the Pirates sit at 31-38, in fourth place, six games behind the Brewers in the NL Central. There is time for the Bucs to catch fire and contend in the Central, but it will take more than improved luck to do that - they will need their big-time players to pick up their games.
LAST MEETING: The Brewers traveled to Pittsburgh in early May, dropping two of three in a weekend set. Milwaukee’s lone win came in the finale, a 6-2 Sunday afternoon win powered by homers from Travis Shaw, Jesus Aguilar, and Eric Thames. Zach Davies had one of his better starts of the season.
Monday, June 19th: Gerrit Cole, 4-5, 4.52 vs Matt Garza, 3-2, 4.17
Tuesday, June 20th: Chad Kuhl, 1-6, 5.61 vs Zach Davies, 7-3, 4.91
Wednesday, June 21st: Trevor Williams, 3-3, 5.16 vs Junior Guerra, 1-1, 2.84
Thursday, June 22nd: TBD, 0-0, 0.00 vs Chase Anderson, 5-2, 2.92
The Pirates should pitch this TBD guy more often. The rest of their starting pitching in this series looks a tad weak. But the Pirates have played the Brewers better as of late, and leaving multitudes of runners in scoring position and committing three errors in a game would perhaps not be the best strategy for the Brewers in this series.