By Jared Lankes
Pirates had a much better series against the Mets before dropping the makeup game in Colorado. Now, the Pirates return home once again to face a team they’ve had success against, the Cardinals. The Pirates are 5-1 against the Red Birds this season. The Cardinals have brought the best out of the Pirates in recent years, and this season has been no different whatsoever.
Friday: Gerrit Cole (5-4 2.85 ERA) vs Michael Wacha (2-6 5.16 ERA) 7:05 ET
This pitching matchup looks great based on name value, but the numbers paint a different picture. Wacha has severely struggled as he is one of the many disappointing pitchers the Cardinals have had to endure through this year. Pirates have played a role in his struggles and have actually hit him well recently despite his Game 4 start in PNC Park in the NLDS in 2013 still haunting Pirates fans everywhere. On the other side, it’s Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, who pitched well enough on Sunday to keep the Pirates in the game. He looks to build on recent success.
Saturday: Francisco Liriano (4-5 5.25 ERA) vs Carlos Martinez (6-5 3.76 ERA) 7:15 ET
Liriano did not start Wednesday as that was Jameson Taillon’s start. He got pushed back to Saturday as the Pirates look for him to get on track. Liriano will have quite a challenge against the Cardinals lineup that is full of quality hitters. The Pirates lineup will have its hands full with Carlos Martinez, who has had a good year and has historically been good against the Pirates.
Sunday: Jon Niese (6-2 3.93) vs Mike Leake (4-4 4.22 ERA) 5:05 ET
5:05 is just a really weird start time for a Sunday game, but we are going to have to manage. As for the game, we see Jon Niese, who has been great lately vs Mike Leake, who has also been disappointing for them but looks to be improving as well. It’ll be interesting to see if these two pitchers can continue to pitch better. Pirates normally don’t hit Leake well, but they did pretty well last time, making him throw more than 40 pitches in the first and touching him up for a few runs in a very short outing for him. We will see if the Pirates offense can build on that.
Pirates really would like to win another series against the Cardinals to keep a leg up on them. That would be a nice thing to do. It would also help them regain some momentum that started to return in the Mets series but was lost. These are the last 3 games before the Pirates get a scheduled day off. It would be nice to end this long stretch with a series win to put this team in a good spot as they head into a day off then go into New York.