By Jared Lankes
The Pirates lost yet another series. They dropped 3 of 4 to the Giants after a promisingly shocking win in Game 1 vs Madison Bumgarner. The Pirates continue to struggle, and the road doesn’t get much easier as they now tangle for a four-game wrap around series against the Dodgers. The Dodgers have been playing better recently, so the Pirates are also catching them at the wrong time.
Friday: Jameson Taillon (1-1 3.50 ERA) vs Nick Tepesch (0-0 0.00 ERA) 7:05 ET
For the third time in his four starts, the Pirates are looking for Jameson Taillon to be the stopper. Things get dangerous when you ask a rookie to be that time after time. The silver lining is that he will go up against a pitcher that was recently released by the Rangers. This could be a really good time for the Pirates bats to get on track. It would be great if the Pirates can relax their rookie right-hander by getting him a ton of runs.
Saturday: Jeff Locke (6-5 5.44 ERA) vs Kenta Maeda (6-4 2.64 ERA) 7:15 ET
Jeff Locke pitched brilliantly on Monday, defeating Bumgarner. It doesn’t get much easier for him on Saturday. He faces Kenta Maeda, who has arisen as a star in his rookie season in the MLB coming out of Japan. Locke will need to have his best if he wants to follow up beating Bumgarner by beating Maeda.
Sunday: TBA vs Clayton Kershaw (11-1 1.57 ERA) 8:08 ET
What’s worse than facing Clayton Kershaw? Not knowing who you will pitch against Clayton Kershaw. Not that it matters most times who you put up against Kershaw, it would feel better to know. I’m going to assume that it’s going to be Chad Kuhl on Sunday against him. That seems to be the only option unless they want to go with a bullpen game, which this team can’t afford right now. On the bright side, the Pirates hit Kershaw as well as any team can last year at PNC Park. If there is repeat success of that, the Pirates will at least have a shot.
Monday: Francisco Liriano (4-7 5.17 ERA) vs Scott Kazmir (5-3 4.52 ERA) 12:35 ET
Scott Kazmir was a huge signing by the Dodgers this offseason, but he has been underwhelming. The Dodgers are hoping that he gets right sooner rather than later. The Pirates hope he doesn’t figure it out at PNC Park. The Pirates have an underwhelming left-hander as well in Francisco Liriano, who has struggled midely. He hopes to figure it out sooner rather than later as well. If they both have their stuff, this should be a fantastic pitching matchup.
Pirates find themselves in more “must win” situations if they want to contend. Losing 3 of 4 or worse would be awful. It would put the Pirates further into free fall. They need to get at least a split to stay afloat. If not, they will dig themselves a huge hole.