Series Preview: Tigers @ Pirates

By Matthew Kruth, The Burgh Blog Writer, @theburghblog_mk

Detroit (4-2) at Pittsburgh (5-3)

PITTSBURGH – The Pirates are come back from Detroit on Wednesday for the second of their two 2-game series with Tigers.

Game 1, Wed. 7:05

Ryan Vogelsong will make his first start of the season for the Pirates, and his second overall appearance on Wednesday. He is coming off a sub-par performance in his first outing giving up two runs, one earned, in two innings of work against the Cincinnati Reds. Vogelsong had been expected to start the year in the rotation, but was beat out for the fifth spot by Juan Nicasio, who pitched yesterday in the Pirates 8-2 loss to the Tigers. Vogelsong goes against a formidable offense that will likely give him a run for his money. If Vogelsong is to return to the starting rotation, he needs to put up a solid start on Wednesday.

Last year was Shane Greene’s debut season. One of his best starts was against the Pirates when he went eight shutout innings, giving up three hit, and striking out three. According to Fangraphs, the game was his best pitched game of the season. His game score was 5 points higher than any of his other starts. Greene has a career ERA of 5.34. With the way the Pirates have been swinging the bats, they should be able to put up a better fight against Greene this season as opposed to last.

Key game stat: Greene has pitched to a 2.70 ERA in interleague games in his short career. 

Game 2, Thur. 12:35

Gerrit Cole will look to get back on track in Thursday’s series finale. Cole had trouble in his first start of the season on Saturday against the Reds. He was dealing with a rib injury during spring training that lead to his first start being delayed, though the Pirates say that he is healthy. If Cole struggles for a second start in a row, there still not be a cause for concern but certainly something to watch as the year progresses. Cole’s fastball averaged 94.4 mph which would suggest Cole’s ribs are healthy. Whether he was rusty or just having a bad day, he will need to have his best stuff against one of the best offensive lineups in baseball.

Cole faces a new face for the Tigers, Jordan Zimmerman. Zimmerman played for the Washington Nationals last season before signing a massive free agent contract with the Tigers this offseason. Zimmerman was fantastic in his first start in a Detroit uniform against the Yankees on April 8. He threw seven innings of two-hit baseball and finished with the win to improve to 1-0. The Pirates are going to have their hands full with Zimmerman on the mound.

Key game stat: Gerrit Cole has made two career starts against Detroit. Over those starts he has averaged 6.1 IP and 7 K. He has a 2.13 ERA against the Tigers.

Game Picks

Game 1: Tigers 5, Pirates 7      Player of the Game: John Jaso
Game 2: Tigers 1, Pirates 2      Player of the Game: Gerrit Cole


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