The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t had many series wins this season, but they’re actually going into Sunday’s game against the San Francisco Giants in search of a sweep. The Buccos have won the first two games in lopsided fashion, as the Giants seem to be suffering a post-Dodgers hangover after taking three out of four from the Los Angeles squad.
Pittsburgh goes for the jackpot tonight with staff ace JT Brubaker on the mound. The Giants will counter with Alex Wood in hopes of staving off some real embarrassment. The total on the game is down to 7.5 across most of the market and the Giants are favored in the -175 range at BetOnline Sportsbook.
The Pirates banged out 10 runs on 16 hits on Saturday in a game started by Kevin Gausman and finished by position player Mike Tauchman. The Pirates have two games with 11 runs scored, but it was only their third game of the season in double digits. Pittsburgh did improve to 14-0 when scoring at least seven runs with that victory.
Those kinds of offensive explosions have been few and far between for an offense that ranks 26th in wOBA. The Pirates don’t really do much of anything well offensively, except for having a low strikeout rate at 21.9%. Putting a lot of balls in play has not really helped a ton and Pittsburgh’s 82 home runs are far and away the fewest in baseball.
They scored the 10 runs on Saturday with the help of only one home run, so it was an old-school style of offense for them with six hits in 14 tries with a man in scoring position and a lot of manufactured offense.
JT Brubaker hopes that there is more where that came from. The right-hander has a 4.68 ERA and a 4.80 FIP on the season over 17 starts covering 92.1 innings of work. Brubaker got off to an excellent start with a 2.58 ERA in his first seven outings, but a 4.15 FIP proved to be a foreshadowing of things to come. He has a 6.17 ERA with a 5.25 FIP over his last 10 starts dating back to May 18.
The Pirates bullpen hasn’t had a lot of leads to protect this season, but has pitched well. Pittsburgh ranks 12th in fWAR as a relief unit with a 4.32 ERA and a 4.06 FIP. A lot home run rate is the best attribute for this bullpen, but a high walk rate could catch up with the group soon.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants entered this series with a 41-20 record against teams that are below .500. The Pirates very much fit the bill, still sitting 22 games below the break-even mark, even with the two wins in this series. It has been a stunning couple of nights to say the least, as these are really the teams that the Giants have built their record against. They are 20-15 against teams with a record of .500 or better.
It has been doubly stunning to see this at home, where the Giants were 30-13 coming into this series. It just goes to show what a lack of focus and a little bit of a big head can do. The Giants took three of four from the Dodgers earlier in the week and will face the Dodgers again next week for a huge three-game series at Oracle Park. The lead is back down to two games after the Dodgers beat the Rockies 1-0 last night and the Giants came up short.
The Giants will be in search of a big effort from Alex Wood in this game. Wood has a 3.77 ERA with a 3.83 FIP in his 16 starts across 88.1 innings of work. Since June 1, Wood has a 5.36 ERA with a 4.20 FIP, as he’s had a little bit of a tough time working deep into games and getting out of jams. His LOB% is only 62.1% in that stretch, hence the big gap between his ERA and FIP.
Wood should get some run support from an offense that ranks sixth in wOBA on the season, but we would have expected the same the last two nights. The Giants also rank sixth in home wOBA as well, so they’ve been quite a good offense by the bay for the most part.
The bullpen has also been solid with a 3.36 ERA and a 3.91 FIP. The Giants bullpen has slipped up a bit in this series as well, coming off of those high-leverage, high-stress innings in the Dodgers series.
Pirates vs. Giants Free Pick
You have to think that the Giants will refocus and get all hands on deck to avoid the sweep today and roll into the next Dodgers series with some to be happy about. The Pirates end their Arizona and San Francisco road trip today, so they’ll be flying out after the game, having accomplished a split. The Giants are a big betting favorite today, but maybe not big enough.