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Know Your Enemy: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are in the thick of a four-team race in the NL Central...

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals
Hold Cervelli: The Pirates have found balance in the middle of their order with Francisco Cervelli and Corey Dickerson this season.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been a bit of a surprise this year. And, well, I’ll be a bit surprised rooting against the Pirates this week.

I’m normally cheering on the Pirates to put up another 10-spot on Jon Lester in the first inning, so let’s hope they can just save that for the summer.

The Pirates sit in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, but have had some success early on.

Pittsburgh improved its record to 19-16 (good for two games out of first place) after a series win against the Milwaukee Brewers. Clint Hurdle’s squad looked impressive against a much-improved Milwaukee team.

The Pirates made one of the better trades last offseason, acquiring Corey Dickerson for reliever Daniel Hudson, minor leaguer Tristan Gray and cash. Dickerson is hitting .315 with five home runs and 24 RBIs this season.

Francisco Cervelli is also having a nice year, getting on base at a .391 clip to go along with a .950 OPS. Let’s hope he doesn’t hit the White Sox the way he does the Cubs.

The Pirates also have five players who have walked 10 or more times this season (the Sox have only three).

Pitching, on the other hand, has been mediocre at best for Pittsburgh. The team has a combined 4.12 ERA with a .245 batting average against. The White Sox will avoid Chad Kuhl, who blanked the Brewers on Sunday with a seven-inning one-hitter.

The Sox will instead face Ivan Nova and Trevor Williams. Nova had a rough last outing against the Washington Nationals, but posted a 2.28 ERA in his previous two starts.

Williams has a low ERA at 2.95, but his FIP is at 4.15. He’s not too overpowering (5.71 K/9), but will get his team deep into games.

This will be another tough test for the Sox.

Pitching Probables:

Tuesday, May 8: Lucas Giolito (1-4, 7.03 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (2-2, 4.01 ERA)

Wednesday, May 9: Reynaldo Lopez (0-2, 2.43 ERA) vs. Trevor Williams (4-2, 2.63 ERA)