The Pirates welcome the Dodgers to PNC Park to finish up their brief homestand
When & Who
Game 1 – (4/25, 6:35 EST)
For the Pirates – Johan Oviedo (2-1, 2.22 ERA)
For the Dodgers – Noah Syndergaard (0-3, 4.91 ERA)
Game 2 – (4/26, 6:35 EST)
For the Pirates – Roansy Contreras (2-1, 4.57 ERA
For the Dodgers – TBD
Game 3 – (4/27, 12:35 EST)
For the Pirates – Mitch Keller (2-0, 3.64 ERA)
For the Dodgers – TBD
The Dodgers are coming to Pittsburgh fresh off taking three of four games from the Cubs at Wrigley, and are looking to get some traction going after starting the season just 12-11. The Dodgers rotation ranks in the upper half of the league with its 3.95 ERA, but with Clayton Kershaw being responsible for a majority of that, the Pirates will catch a break avoiding Kershaw in this series. The Dodgers bats are no joke, ranking 4th in MLB with their .787 OPS, including a .797 OPS on the road. The Dodgers also rank 2nd in MLB in home runs with 43, with obvious power up and down the lineup.
There are few teams hotter in MLB than the Pirates right now, who have won seven straight including two straight sweeps over the Rockies and Reds. The Pirates rotation has been an absolute force as of late, posting a 2.15 ERA over their past 13 games, best in all of baseball. The Pirates bullpen has continued to be an unforeseen strength, ranking in the upper half of MLB with their 3.36 ERA. The Pirates also rank inside the top 10 in MLB with their 27 home runs, and 7th in MLB in OPS at .765. The Pirates 88 walks rank near the top five as well.
For the Dodgers – Max Muncy: Plenty of choices here, but Max Muncy has reached base 6 of his past 7 games, and has recorded two three-walk games and two multi-hit games in that span. Muncy’s OPS is at an alarming 1.129 this season, so getting him out must be a top priority for Pirates’ pitchers. Muncy will miss at least part of the series as he’s been placed on the Paternity list.
For the Pirates – Ke’Bryan Hayes: Hayes is the Pirates choice for the 2nd straight week, but how could I not pick him. Hayes has been on a tear since being moved to the leadoff spot, and has hits in nine of his past ten games. Hayes’ bat had been a worrisome spot early in the season, but he’s turned it around and looks to be a solid leadoff batter for the Bucs lineup.
For the Dodgers – Jason Heyward – Heyward had just one hit in the Dodgers series against the Cubs, finishing 1 for 9. The Dodgers outfielder has had somewhat limited attempts this year, but had has had little production as of late and it has brought his average for the year down to .179.
For the Pirates – Ji Hwan Bae: Bae had a great start to the season, including a walk-off home run against Houston that really made people start to pay attention to his name. Recently, he hasn’t had the same success. Bae went hitless in his three starts against the Reds, and has racked up a lot more strikeouts than we would all like to see.
Series Overview & Prediction
When you compare the two rosters, the Dodgers team is flooded with talent. The Dodgers capabilities go well beyond their early 12-11 record, and means next to nothing for a team that will likely finish with 90+ wins again.
The Pirates are fortunate to avoid Clayton Kershaw in this series, and will themselves field their three best pitchers in Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras and Johan Oviedo. The Pirates are hot, and with their pitching being some of the best in baseball recently, this series is shaping up to be a thriller. Both fans and players alike are more than familiar with the Pirates success against the Dodgers last year, so how will this series play out?
The Pirates offense stalled in the last few games against the Reds, where the Dodgers picked theirs up. I’m going to say the Dodgers take two out of three here, based on offensive production. The Pirates rotation has been solid, but this matchup will be right up with Houston as the most challenging so far this season for pitchers. That said, if Hayes, Reynolds, and Carlos Santana can continue to play the way they have, this series is anyones for the taking.