By Jared Lankes
The Pirates ended a disastrous road trip by losing two of three to the Atlanta Braves. They have fallen to .500 at 53-53. While still being in the hunt for the playoffs, they really need to get it going if they want to make the playoffs. It all has to start as they return back home to face the Cincinatti Reds.
Friday: Jameson Taillon (2-2 3.52 ERA) vs Anthony DeSclafani (6-0 2.93 ERA) 7:05 ET
This is a pitching matchup of two youngsters that that have been bright so far in the majors. For the Pirates, it’s Jameson Taillon. He’s had impeccable control that has lead to him being very successful so far in the MLB. If nothing else, you can expect a low amount of walks that prevents big innings for the most part. For the Reds, it’s Anthony DeSclafani. DeSclafani has been dominant against the Pirates, but he’s been dominant against mostly everyone. The Pirates bats have themselves a very difficult task against one of the brighter young arms in baseball.
Saturday: Ivan Nova (7-6 4.90 ERA) vs Homer Bailey (1-0 3.18 ERA) 7:05 ET
This will be the Pirates debut for righty Ivan Nova. Nova was acquired for 2 PTBNL on Monday. He has spent this season in both the Yankees rotation and the bullpen. He figures to stick as a starting pitcher in Pittsburgh for a pitching staff in desperate need of stability. Can Nova provide that? Time will tell. For the Reds, they got a rotation stabilizer back in Homer Bailey. He returned last Sunday after missing over a year after Tommy John surgery. He pitched effectively on Sunday, and the Reds hope he helps their rotation, also in need of stability. Bailey has always pitched well against the Pirates, but the Pirates bats hope he is still trying to find his feet after the injury.
Sunday: Gerrit Cole (7-6 2.73 ERA) vs Dan Straily (6-6 3.80 ERA) 1:35 ET
Gerrit Cole has been great his last few starts. Though only going 5 innings in Atlanta, he was still able to pitch effectively. The Pirates need that to continue if they want to get momentum going. He’s going to have to be their ace, their stopper, and their horse the rest of the way. For the Reds, Dan Straily has resurrected his career. Acquired for nearly nothing, Straily has enjoyed a good year where he has become an efficient and effective middle of the rotation starter. He’s seen the Pirates a couple times this year and has looked pretty good. There are times when it all blows up on Straily. The Pirates hope they can make that happen to him on Sunday.
This is an important series for the Pirates. Another series loss would put this team in a bad spot. They can’t afford to lay another egg here. Winning 2 of 3 is essential while a sweep would be a bonus. The pitching matchups are pretty good, and the bullpen matchup favors the Pirates. Reds have been hot lately, but I think the Pirates can win this series.