By Jared Lankes
The Pirates had another disappointing series against the Cardinals. They could have won 2 of 3, but had a massive meltdown in the middle game. So now they sit in a desperate position in the playoff race. This desperation includes needing to take at least 3 of 4 from the lowly Cincinatti Reds. There are no excuses; if they want a shot at being a playoff team, they can ill afford to even split this series. They have to win it.
Thursday: Ivan Nova (11-6 4.34 ERA) vs Dan Straily (11-7 3.83 ERA) 7:05 ET
Ivan Nova has had a resurrection since joining the Pirates on August 1st. He’s been great in a Pirates uniform. His first start as a Pirate was against the Reds, and he pitched well. Reds will get a second crack at him. Dan Straily has also had a resurrection this year. He has been brilliant for the Reds since coming over to them in Spring Training. The Pirates will need to find a way to get to him.
Friday: Steven Brault (0-2 3.32 ERA) vs Tim Adleman (2-3 4.02 ERA) 7:05 ET
If you remember Adleman and you’re a Pirates fan, you are likely crying. He made his MLB debut in a start against Cole, and was on the ropes early but got through it and the Reds somehow won that game. In a later start, he dominated the Pirates in PNC Park. Pirates need to figure it out against this lowly full-in starter. Reds fans are likely thinking that Brault is a fringe fill-in starter as well. I think this is a matchup that could either produce a ton of runs or very few runs, no inbetween.
Saturday: Chad Kuhl (3-3 4.09 ERA) vs Robert Stephenson (2-1 3.12) 7:05 ET
This is a battle of two 23-year old righties that have gotten opportunities and have run with them. Chad Kuhl has been rather terrific outside of maybe two or three starts while Stephenson has been terrific as well. We shall see what these rookies produce on Saturday.
Sunday: Ryan Vogelsong (3-4 4.07 ERA) vs Brandon Finnegan (8-10 4.17 ERA) 1:35 ET
These two pitchers have been very underwhelming recently. Firstly, Vogelsong has been showing his age as of late, as he has not been too effective and is incapable of fooling as many people as he did before. Finnegan, who is young, has just been going through the young pitcher inconsistencies that pop up to so many. We will see if either or both pitchers can figure it out on Sunday.
The Pirates need to scratch and claw their way to three wins. Based on pitching matchups, it won’t be easy. The Pirates need to certainly improve against the Reds while they are at a low point. Reds are ready for this season to be over. The Pirates would be approaching the same spot if they don’t find a way this weekend.