By Jared Lankes
The Pirates had a rather disappointing series out of the break in Washington. They played bad all series and had to use all their pitchers in an 18-inning win on Sunday just to avoid getting swept. Well, I bet the Pirates were glad to get out of Washington with a win, however they got it. Now, they play a ton of games against teams that are wishing their 2016 season didn’t even exist. This starts with the Brewers. We know the struggles the team has with the Brewers, but those are primarily in Milwaukee. This is the first series they have played against the Brewers in quite awhile, as they get them 16 times in the second half. It starts here.
Tuesday: Jameson Taillon (2-1 3.86 ERA) vs Junior Guerra (6-2 3.06 ERA) 7:05 ET
This is a rather intriguing pitching matchup. Jameson Taillon is making his first start in a little while after needing down time. He figures to give this rotation a boost. Hopefully he can hop on the high horse quickly and give the Pirates a shot in the arm. For the Brewers, it’s Junior Guerra. Guerra has been super surprising for the Brewers. His 3.06 ERA has been something that not many could’ve expected from him. Pirates, who scored 3 runs in 36 innings against the Nationals, won’t have an easy task against this righty.
Wednesday: Jeff Locke (8-5 5.26 ERA) vs Chase Anderson (4-10 5.44 ERA) 7:05 ET
Jeff Locke takes the hill on Wednesday for the Pirates. The guy has been inconsistent all year. For the most part, he’s been better at home than on the road. This time, he gets a home game. One can hope that this home cooking gets Jeff Locke going. For the Brewers, it’s a disappointing Chase Anderson. For all they’ve gotten from Guerra, they’ve gotten little from Anderson. Chase Anderson was one of the center pieces in the Jean Segura trade over the winter, but he has been bad. Pirates offense will certainly look to get going against a struggling righty.
Thursday: Francisco Liriano (5-9 5.11 ERA) vs Matt Garza (1-3 5.74 ERA) 7:05 ET
Liriano got the the short end of the stick in his start on Friday. Firstly, he drew Stephen Strasburg. Secondly, he came out to stop the seventh inning which he blew up in, making a great pitching line into an average one. In any case, he is taking baby steps forward, and the Pirates need him to continue that against the Brewers. For Milwaukee, it’s struggling veteran Matt Garza. Garza, when not being hurt, has been really not giving the Brewers any sort of help. Garza is no stranger to the Pirates, having been a member of the Cubs and Brewers for much of his career. He could be a July trade candidate if he can give the Brewers a couple good starts. The Pirates bats will try to make sure that doesn’t happen.
This is an important stretch for the Pirates. They have to start finding a way to pile up wins against the Brewers and Reds. It starts now with the Brewers. Their performance in 16 games against the Brew Crew could very well decide their fate for the rest of 2016.