By Jared Lankes
The Pirates lost 2 of 3 in Arlington over the weekend. After erupting for 9 runs on Friday, they scored a total of 4 runs over the next 2 games. Losing 2 of 3 is a small setback, but Texas is a good team, so it’s not a huge deal. The Pirates are hoping for a better performance in Miami, as they play 4 in South Beach. They originally had planned for 2 of these games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but those games got moved to Miami due to Zika concerns.
Monday: Justin Nicolino (2-2 4.37 ERA) vs Jeff Locke (3-3 5.08 ERA) 7:10 PM ET
The Pirates are getting really used to these lefty vs lefty matchups apparently. Well, it happens again on Monday. Pirates faced Nicolino a season ago and were able to hit him well. Nicolino has been average at best this season as well. However, Jeff Locke has been worse. His numbers haven’t looked great overall despite most of his starts actually being decent for a 5 starter. He’s another pitcher that’s better than his stats indicate. This pitching matchup is a toss up.
Tuesday: Jose Fernandez (7-2 2.82 ERA) vs Gerrit Cole (5-3 2.53 ERA) 7:10 ET
This pitching matchup is destined to be one of the best of the year on paper. Two of the best young arms in the NL meet one another in a mega matchup. Cole and Fernandez have lived up to their reputation this season as well. This should be a fun matchup to watch unfold. I don’t expect too many runs in this one.
Wednesday: Adam Conley (3-3 4.15 ERA) vs Jon Niese (5-2 4.42 ERA) 7:10 ET
Look, another all-LHP matchup. What do you know? This series will be another good test for Gregory Polanco against the lefties of the Marlins. We shall see if Polanco can continue his good work vs lefties. There is also hopes that these lefties can help Cutch, Marte, Mercer, and Harrison (if he returns) have a good series and start to get and stay hot, as they all mash lefties.
Thursday: Wei-Yin Chen (3-2 4.37 ERA) vs Juan Nicasio (4-4 4.79 ERA) 7:10 ET
The Pirates bring Juan Nicasio to the hill in their last day in Miami. The key for Nicasio is and always will be consistency. He has been up and down all season long as his time in the Pirates’ rotation winds down (Taillon will replace him by mid-June). While this Marlins lineup isn’t a destroyer of worlds, they can still hit. There is one guy in the lineup to really watch out for, and that guy is Giancarlo Stanton. Though he has struggled a lot to start this season, he is a guy that is as capable as anyone else at absolutely wrecking a pitcher’s day on any given day or night. But he’s not the only threat in that lineup, so Nicasio will need to be on his game.