By Jared Lankes
Pirates had a brutal series in Miami. After a 10-0 win on Monday, they got beat by Jose Fernandez, and couldn’t overcome being no hit for a lot of the game the other two nights. They also suffered injuries to Gregory Polanco, Andrew McCutchen, Francisco Cervelli, David Freese, and Jordy Mercer in the series, but it seems that most of them are not too serious, at least hopefully. Pirates need to forget about the brutal time they spent in South Beach and look towards returning home to face Mike Trout and the struggling Angels.
Friday: Francisco Liriano (4-4 4.63 ERA) vs Jered Weaver (4-4 5.40 ERA) 7:05 ET
This is a pitching matchup of two former aces that have lost their way a little bit. For Liriano, the problem has been command. He hasn’t been able to locate his offspeed stuff. Therefore, he’s using his fastball more to get in counts and it has been getting hit. As for Weaver, it’s been a massive velocity drop. He’s been barely able to get major leaguers out at this point.
Saturday: Jeff Locke (4-3 4.33 ERA) vs Nick Tropeano (3-2 3.25 ERA) 4:05 ET
Locke is coming off the best start of his major league career and possibly his whole pro career on Monday, pitching a complete game shutout while facing just one over the minimum. However, that day he didn’t face one of the best hitters in the game because Giancarlo Stanton was out. Well, on Saturday, he will see a few great hitters. These are highlighted by Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. Pujols’ numbers against the Pirates are other worldly, and Mike Trout is going to hit anyone and everyone well. Locke will have a challenge.
Sunday: Gerrit Cole (5-4 2.72 ERA) vs Jhoulys Chacin (2-3 4.42 ERA) 1:35 ET
Gerrit Cole is coming off a good start against the Marlins but was outdueled by Jose Fernandez, who is one of the best. If Cole pitches like he did in Miami, he should have little troubles winning the matchup with the fringe starter Jhoulys Chacin, who the Angels acquired a few weeks back from Atlanta to help a depleted, injured rotation. The Pirates offense can’t do Chacin favors like they seemed to do to a lot of the Marlins’ pitchers. They need to get back to their approach from earlier in the year which bred success.
Pirates desperately needed to return home after a very tough road trip. If they can feed off of home cooking, then that sour trip becomes a thing of the past for sure. Winning this series against the Angels with a couple of favorable pitching matchups would be a great way to start.