By Jared Lankes
The Pirates got a massive series win in Los Angeles over the Dodgers and find themselves right in the thick of things in the National League Wildcard picture. They now face the another NL West team, the Giants. They lost 3 of 4 to the Giants in PNC Park in June but look to rebound from that.
Monday: Matt Moore (7-8 3.99 ERA) vs Ryan Vogelsong (1-2 2.76 ERA) 10:15 ET
The Pirates were unable to get Matt Moore at the trade deadline. He ended up getting traded to the Giants. Now, he will face the Pirates. The Pirates will get a close-up look at the guy they didn’t get. I have to say it would be delightful if the Pirates lit him up. For the Pirates, it’s Ryan Vogelsong. He won 2 World Series with the Giants in 2012 and 2014 and now will make his return to pitching in AT&T Park. He has been great in the two starts since he’s been placed in the rotation. He’s given the rotation a boost and will hope to continue that tonight as the adrenaline for him will be pumping more than ever you would think.
Tuesday: Jeff Samardzija (10-8 4.23 ERA) vs Jameson Taillon (3-2 2.85 ERA) 10:15 ET
Jeff Samardzija has had a pretty average year after signing a huge deal with the Giants over the winter. He’s been given a good amount of run support, leading to a 10-8 record. Pirates hit him rather well last time they faced him and have done so recently. Pirates offense doesn’t want that trend to end now. They send Jameson Taillon to the hill. Taillon has been great. He has had great command and control of all his pitches and has induced a lot of soft contact. That’s a good formula for success in any level of baseball. Giants lineup will be tough, but Taillon has faced good lineups before.
Wednesday: Matt Cain (4-7 5.47 ERA) vs Ivan Nova (9-6 4.68 ERA) 3:45 ET
Matt Cain has been way less than impressive this year for the Giants. He’s had a bad year, and there’s been no way to sugarcoat it. He has good starts occasionally, but those are few and far between these days. Pirates need to take advantage of him struggling. Pirates have Ivan Nova going. He has been good so far by the numbers. However, he has been hit hard, especially in his last start against the Dodgers. The Giants are one lineup you don’t want to mess around with like that. They will crush you that way.
Taking 2 of 3 in this series would be huge to the team. They have to continue to win series’ to make a playoff push in these final weeks. Every game and every series is vital at this point for the Pirates. Losing this series wouldn’t be disastrous, but it certainly wouldn’t be ideal.