Few series are highly anticipated within the first week of April, but when the Pittsburgh Pirates face the St. Louis Cardinals for a three game set starting Friday night, that concept will prove irrelevant.
For Friday's game, two of the top 23-year old pitchers will duel each other as Gerrit Cole and Shelby Miller start their sophomore campaigns. Both had successful rookie seasons, as Cole went 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 117.1 innings while Miller went 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 169 strikeouts in 173.1 innings as he finished third in Rookie of the Year voting.
Cole got two starts for the Pirates in the postseason, splitting the decisions with a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings. Miller was dropped from the postseason rotation in favor of Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly. Miller actually lost four games against the Pirates last year, and the Bucs have outstanding numbers against him.
As a whole, the Pirates hit .296, going 21-71, with a .970 OPS against Miller, who has allowed five home runs to the Bucs. Four Pirates have particularly impressive numbers against Miller. Jose Tabata has three hits, including a triple and a home run, against Miller in 6 at bats. Russell Martin is 3-for-8 with a pair of home runs, Neil Walker is hitting .500 with three doubles and Starling Marte is 4-for-11 with a double, triple and home run. Those four played a huge role in Miller's struggles against Pittsburgh.
On the flip side, Cole has impressive numbers against the Cardinals. Current Cardinal batters are 4-30 against Cole, good for a .133 average and a putrid .421 OPS. Yadier Molina is 2-for-4 with a home run, but aside from Peter Bourjos and Matt Adams singles, no Cardinal has a hit.
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