The Pirates have been struggling since we’ve seen them last — a series in Milwaukee that saw them take 2 of 3 like their Pennsylvania brothers. But after that series win that saw them improve the 19-16 and move within 3 games of first place, the Pirates have gone 16-20 and fallen to 7 games back.
Corey Dickerson is still looking like a steal, now slashing .308/.342/.464, but Josh Bell (.245/.326/.382) and Gregory Polanco (.211/.313/.427) have been huge disappointments. That’s opened the door for some playing time for top prospect Austin Meadows, who is making a good first impression with a .326/.351/.598 line with 5 home runs in his first 26 games.
Much of their slide over the past month and a half has been because their pitching has come back to earth. After a lights-out first month that allowed them to win a lot of low-scoring games even with their struggling lineup, the group as a whole has regressed to near-the-back-of-the-middle-of-the-pack, ranking in the 20th-to-22nd range in most major categories. After the hot start, the Pirates have basically become the decidedly “meh” team many people thought they would be heading into the year.
And yet, PNC Park will seemingly always be a House of Horrors for the Brewers, no matter how good they are and how bad the Pirates are supposed to be. After a slugfest weekend, the Brewers might have to find a way to scratch together enough runs to win — something that’s proven difficult in Pittsburgh over the past year-plus.
Monday - 6:05 p.m. CDT
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Trevor Williams
Tuesday - 6:05 p.m. CDT
Freddy Peralta vs. Jameson Taillon
Wednesday - 6:05 p.m. CDT
Brent Suter vs. Chad Kuhl
Williams was one of the nice surprises for the Pirates in April as they got off to their hot start, but he’s fallen back to earth just as the rest of the team has. He had a 2.29 ERA in 6 starts during the season’s first month, but has since given up 27 earned runs in his next 8 starts, covering 38.2 innings. The difference has been more hits falling in for opposing batters -- he had a .227 BABIP in that first month and was due for some regression, but it’s swung back in the other direction with a .313 BABIP in May and a .375 BABIP so far in June.
Taillon has put together four strong starts in a row after a rough outing on May 22nd, when he gave up 6 runs against the Reds. He’s coming off a 7-inning start in Arizona in which he held the Diamondbacks to just 2 runs. He’s struck out 71 batters in 77.2 innings this year and held the Brewers to 1 run in 5 innings in his first start against them back on May 5th.
Kuhl is a pretty average pitcher who has historically owned the Brewers in his short big league career. After a slow start to the year that saw him carrying a 5.01 ERA in 6 starts before facing the Brewers on May 6th, he shut them down that day, allowing just 1 hit over 7 innings, striking out 8. That day seems to have helped him find his confidence -- since that start, he’s put up a 3.40 ERA in 7 outings. In six career starts against the Brewers, Kuhl has held them to a .202/.275/.319 line, put up a 1.91 ERA in 33 innings, and wrecked Stephen Vogt’s knee on a slide into home.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference