By Jared Lankes
The Pirates lost a third straight series over the weekend when they dropped 2 of 3 to the Angels. After getting blown out Friday, they eeked by on Saturday, but blew a 4-1 7th inning lead on Sunday. Now, they get to face one of the best teams in the NL with one of the best rotations, and the Pirates are seeing the part of that rotation nobody wants to see. All we can do is gulp and hope that things go okay. Another storyline is that Neil Walker returns to Pittsburgh. If he doesn’t get a standing ovation, we are doing it wrong.
Monday: Jon Niese (5-2 4.36 ERA) vs Steven Matz (7-1 2.60 ERA) 7:05 ET
Steven Matz has quickly become one of the best pitchers in the NL and rightfully so. He’s done everything he can do to earn it. He’s returned from injury and has been better than he was before. On the other side is another lefty, former Met Jon Niese, who had no place in the Mets rotation ironically because of Matz. Niese will get a chance to show up his former club while also facing Neil Walker in the process.
Tuesday: Juan Nicasio (4-4 4.75 ERA) vs Jacob deGrom (3-1 2.62 ERA) 7:05 ET
Juan Nicasio is approaching the end of his rope as a Pirates starter. He will likely get two starts this week and then be out and to the bullpen. Hopefully he uses that as fuel for the fire and pitches well, but it’s no easy task to beat the deGrominater (I’ll leave now). But in any case, the Pirates bats are going to need to hit the few mistakes deGrom makes. He has stellar numbers against the Pirates, and most anybody for that matter.
Wednesday: Francisco Liriano (4-5 5.25 ERA) vs Noah Syndergaard (6-2 1.91) 7:05 ET
With each passing pitching matchup, this seems to only get tougher for the Pirates. Noah Syndergaard is one of the best, not just in the NL, but the whole MLB. The dude is nasty on the hill and can even hit a bit too. On the Pirates side, it’ll be a struggling Francisco Liriano. Much to the dismay of fans, it’s not Taillon. Throwing Taillon in his debut vs Syndergaard is like throwing gas on fire. It just won’t end well. Liriano needs to go toe to toe with Syndergaard, which is hard for anyone, let alone a pitcher that has had a bad year. We can hope that Liriano has it on Wednesday. That’s basically it.
Three terrible pitching matchups for the Pirates here, though facing Harvey and Colon wouldn’t exactly be easy either. Winning 2 of 3 would be a great step back in the right direction for this team, especially against these pitchers. This will be a series where we see if this offense can hit elite guys and if Liriano and Nicasio can get on track. Big series for the Pirates even though it’s early June.