HOW WILL ROTATION SETUP FOR PIRATES IN NLDS?
The Pirates will see Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA) in Game 1 and Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA) in Game 2. Wainwright, the Cardinals ace, won an NL League high 19 games and went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts vs the Pirates.
Wainwright had a strong September, going 4-1 with a 2.85 ERA and had a 35 to 8 SO/BB ratio over his final six starts. Like A.J. Burnett, he comes into Thursday’s game pitching some of his best baseball of the season. Wainwright this season ranked 1st in NL in Wins (19), 1st in NL in IP (241.2), 1st in NL in CG (5), and 3rd in NL in W% (.679).
Wainwright’s most recent start vs the Pirates was an excellent one on September 7th, allowing 2 hits and throwing seven innings of shutout ball in a Cardinals 5-0 win.
Some of the Pirates top guns, though, have hit Wainwright well. Andrew McCutchen is 12-28 (.429) in his career vs Wainwright…..Russell Martin is 9-22 (.409) vs Wainwright…..Neil Walker is 6-19 (.316) with 6 RBIs against the Cardinals ace.
Game 2 starter Lance Lynn had an up and down season but was very good at home going 9-3 with a 2.82 ERA.
In his last two outings, the Pirates hit Lynn hard as the righty was tagged for 7 earned runs in a Cardinals 7-1 loss to Pittsburgh on August 31st and Lynn struggled in a start vs Pittsburgh two weeks earlier on August 15, when he gave up 8 hits and 4 earned runs in 5.1 IP. A game the Cardinals survived with a 6-5 win.
I don’t expect the Pirates to fear the Cardinals staff.
As for the Pirates, it’s still uncertain as to who gets the ball for Game 2. Without question it should be Gerrit Cole. The Pirates can’t risk holding Cole out for Game 4 as there might not end up being a Game 4. Cole is coming off a dominant September where he went 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five starts. Cole had a 39 to 10 SO/BB ratio. Cole has never faced the Cardinals in his career but what he does is always keep the Pirates in games. In 18 of 19 starts this season, Cole has allowed 3 runs or less.
Charlie Morton who is also in contention to start Game 2, was a disaster against the Cardinals this season, going 0-2 with a 7.90 ERA. Morton allowed 12 earned runs in 13.2 IP vs the Cards.
Burnett in Game 1, Cole in Game 2, and Francisco Liriano in Game 3 at home is the Pirates best recipe to upsetting the Cardinals. During Clint Hurdle’s media session today in St. Louis, the Pirates manager reportedly would not reveal the Game 2 starter, but said Francisco Liriano will start Game 3. The ball has to go to Cole in Game 2.