Bring on The Buccos
The Cubs finished out the weekend with a solid performance all around as the Cubs beat the Phillies 8-3 on solid performances from Ryan Kalish and Anthony Rizzo. Kalish got his first hits since September 2012 boosting his average to .286. Kalish doubled and tripled and drew a walk on the day showing great plate discipline with three quality at bats. Villanueva gave a solid effort pitching five innings on seventy one pitches. It was good to see Villanueva get the win as he suffered two losses in relief in the first series of the season he’s going to be a key piece to help save the bullpen and the pitching staff with his durability. Jose Veras continued to struggle not able to notch the save while increasing his earned run average to 16.20 in his two appearances.
Get To Know Your Opposing Pitcher
Charlie Morton is on the bump for the Pirates a career 30-49 pitcher with a 4.66 earned run average. He’s pitched in 110 games including 109 starts over his seven year career and has a WHIP of 1.50 in his career. Morton pitched game two of the opening series against the Cubs pitching six innings in his debut giving up four hits and no earned runs. He also struck out six cubs and walked one which gives him a .83 WHIP for the season.
Why The Pirates Will Win The Series
As the Cubs saw in the opening series, the Pirates are all about pitching. The Cubs already saw Charlie Morton and Wandy Rodriguez – the first two starters of this series – but they are scheduled to get their first look at Gerrit Cole on Thursday. Cole is fourth in the rotation to start the year, but he definitely profiles as a top of the rotation pitcher with his elite fastball and often-devastating curve/slider that can reach the low 90’s. With Morton and Cole on the mound against a Cubs team that has struggled at the plate so far, I like the Bucs’ chances in those two games.
A player to watch at the plate for the Pirates is Pedro Alvarez. He was quiet in the first three games but woke up against the Cardinals over the weekend. He crushed two homers in his first two AB’s on Friday and took five walks over the rest of the series – a sign that he is seeing the ball well. Pedro is an extremely streaky hitter (when he’s hot, he can destroy baseballs out of stadiums and carry a team…but when he’s cold, he’s a strikeout machine) and it looks like he’s ready for a hot week or so. ~ Brian (www.raisethejollyroger.com)