The Pirates will be facing some excellent pitching this week, even though they will miss Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday. Right-handers Chris Tillman, Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg will be looking to shut the Bucs down while Doug Fister will look to get his season going after being recently activated from the DL.
Throughout his career, Liriano has struggled against the Orioles, allowing a .339/.381/.610/.991 slash line in 63 plate appearances. The main culprits have been Delmon Young and Adam Jones. Young is 4-for-8 off of Liriano with a double, triple and home run while Jones is 4-for-15 with a trio of homers. The only Pirates' player to face the Mexican righty Gonzalez is Chris Stewart, who is 1-for-6 with a walk.
The only Orioles to face Rodriguez for a significant number of at-bats are J.J. Hardy and Nelson Cruz, with Hardy having the better numbers. Building up at-bats against Rodriguez from his time with the Milwaukee Brewers, Hardy is 6-for-23 with three doubles and two homes runs in addition to a pair of walks. Cruz is 2-for-9 with three walks and no extra base hits. Pirates' hitters have good numbers off of Tillman in just 30 plate appearances. Pittsburgh batters have a career .320/.433/.480/.913 slash line against Baltimore's top pitcher.
This would have been the game Gonzalez started for the Nationals before he was injured, and the team has yet to name a replacement. Nevertheless, it is known that Volquez will be looking to get back to the good pitching Pirates fans saw from the Dominican earlier this year when he takes the mound Thursday against a Nationals club he has had success against in the past. In 43 plate appearances, the Nats own a below-average .216/.326/.351/.677 slash line against Volquez, although Nate McLouth owns good career numbers vs. the Pirates' fifth starter. McLouth is 5-for-12 with a pair of doubles and walks.
With the weekend comes the best of the Nationals pitching staff in Zimmerman and Strasburg, a tall test for Morton and Cole. Fortunately for the Bucs, Morton owns good career numbers against Washington, as he has put together a .244/.261/.400/.661 slash line together in 47 plate appearances. Jayson Werth is 3-for-11 off of Morton with a pair of home runs. On the flip side, the Pirates have excellent numbers off of Zimmerman, as proven by a .327/.404/.673/1.077 slash line. Ike Davis is 5-for-24 with a pair of home runs and six walks off of Zimmerman, but Andrew McCutchen and, surprisingly, Clint Barmes are the main reasons for the great slash line. McCutchen is 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs while Barmes is 4-for-5 with a home run and 4 RBI.
A dream matchup baseball fans and media have been waiting for. Two number one overall picks in Cole and Strasburg go toe-to-toe on the rubber for the first time. In just 15 plate appearances, the Nationals have awful numbers against Cole. Wilson Ramos owns the only hit, while Ian Desmond owns the only walk. The Pirates do not perform much better vs. Strasburg, as the team owns a .207/.278/.402/.680 slash line in 90 plate appearances. Pirates' hitters have struck out 31 times over those 90 plate appearances, although the Bucs own good power numbers off Strasburg. Davis has hit a pair of home runs, and has a 1.169 OPS vs. the right-hander, while Starling Marte, Pedro Alvarez and Barmes have each hit a bomb. Overall, Davis and Marte own the best career numbers off Strasburg.
The week concludes with a second start for Liriano, who flat out dominates the Nats. In 32 plate appearances, Washington has a .138/.219/.241/.460 line against the left-hander as Nationals' hitters are just 4-for-29. Pirates batters aren't much better against Fister, as he owns a .672 OPS against the Bucs in 48 plate appearances, although McCutchen is 4-for-5 off of him.
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