After last night’s win, the Cards sit just 1.5 games back of the Brewers in the Central and are firmly in control of the wild card race. The Pirates, meanwhile, are still in the hunt for a wild card spot but are fading fast in terms of vying for the NL Central. Over their past 10 games, the Pirates are 3-7 while the Cards are 7-3.
The Pitching Matchup: Lance Lynn (14-8, 2.78 ERA) is pitching tonight for the Cards in his third appearance against the Pirates this season. In the previous two matchups, Lynn gave up six earned runs in 12 2/3 innings pitched and 15 hits. He took the loss in the first matchup but redeemed himself in the second to earn the win. So far this season, Lynn has been leagues better in night games as opposed to day games, posting a 2.o2 ERA in night games but a 5.56 ERA in day games. Against this current Pirates’ lineup, Starling Marte is 6 for 15 with two doubles and Neil Walker is 8 for 26 with two homers.
For the Pirates tonight is sophomore pitcher Gerrit Cole (7-4, 3.69 ERA). This will be Cole’s second start since his return from his second stint on the DL this season. In his first game back, Cole gave up only two earned runs in 7 innings to earn the win. Cole has faced the Cards twice before this season, giving up three earned runs in 14 innings pitched with seven strikeouts. Cole is primarily a groundball pitcher, so coupling that with the Pirates’ propensity to play the shift, this could be a long afternoon for the Cards.
The Skinny: Both pitchers throwing tonight are the up-and-comers on their respective teams. Lynn has truly proved himself this season as the Cards’ number two behind Wainwright and should carry the mantle for years to come. Gerrit Cole is also heralded as the next big thing in Pittsburgh despite his numerous arm injuries over the course of 2014. I expect today’s game to be a pitcher’s duel that could swing either way.