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Know Your Enemy: Pittsburgh Pirates

White Sox vs. Tax Shelter

England Basks In Hottest Weekend Of 2021 Hugh R Hastings/Getty Images

I really hate punching down against enemies that aren’t like, direct enemies in our division. The Pirates owners are using the team as a money-laundering operation/tax shelter and give such little thought to the players they have that they have a deep bench which is a veritable who’s-who of Some Guys™. That stinks for their fans, the gorgeous stadium, and also for baseball as a whole.

Last time

In their last meeting in Pittsburgh, the White Sox and the Pirates split the series. The White Sox came into Pittsburgh on a bit of a tailspin after having been swept in four games in Houston, getting outscored, 27-8. A four-run rally in the seventh was what did it for the Pirates, and they took the first of the series, 6-3. Things hadn’t started out that bad; Yasmani Grandal hit a three-run homer at the top of the seventh, giving the White Sox a brief lead after having been scoreless on two hits through the first six. An unfortunate outing by Garrett Crochet gave the Pirates the lead with four runs on zero outs.

The second game of the series fared much better for the White Sox, ending a five-game losing spiral. A two-run double from Grandal broke the tie in the fifth and lifted the team out of the streak, to a 4-3 victory, with Leury García tacked on a home run for good measure. Luis González got his first major league hit, with a double in the second, and then scored on a double from Tim Anderson. The game marked the end of Chicago’s longest losing streak of the season.

How’s it going?

Well, the Pirates are in last place in the AL Central. They also fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein on Monday after entering the week in last in MLB in runs, home runs, slugging, and OPS. They’re 27th in MLB in batting average. Barring any major skid by the Cubs, the Pirate are on their way to third straight last-place finish in the division.

So obviously firing the hitting coach now will help (it kind of but not really worked for the Mets early on this season).

Pittsburgh is 31 12 games back from first, so their race to the bottom is pretty firm at this point. They’re 7-13 during their last 20 and 20-45 on the road. Against Central opponents they’re 17-43, while 8-7 at interleague play. Bryan Reynolds leads the team in home runs (21), RBIs (77), and hits (138).

Pitching matchups

Today is going to see Lucas Giolito vs. Bryse Wilson. Giolito is at 9-9 this season over 154 innings with a 3.68 ERA. He’s going 1-3 in his last seven starts with a 3.07 ERA, and against the Pirates he’s 1-0 in his career (the one win being his no-hitter, almost a year ago to the day) over 19 innings with a 2.84 ERA.

Wilson is 2-5 this season over 51 23 innings with a 4.35 ERA. Wilson joined the Pirates as part of a deal with Atlanta that sent him and Ricky DeVito the Pittsburgh in exchange for Richard Rodriguez (not the movie director). He’s never faced the White Sox as a starter and is 1-3 in his last seven starts, going 33 23 innings and posting a 3.74 ERA. He relies on five pitches: 4-seam fastball, changeup, sinker, curveball, and slider.

Thursday will be Carlos Rodón vs. Mitch Keller. Rodón is 10-5 this season with a 2.43 ERA over 114 23 innings. He’s 4-2 in his last seven starts with a 3.25 ERA over 36 innings. In his lone start against Pittsburgh (in 2015) he’s 0-1 over 3 23 innings with a 17.18 ERA (yikes).

Keller is 4-10 this season with a 6.75 ERA over 72 innings. He’s never faced the White Sox as a starter, and in his last seven starts he’s 1-4 over 29 13 innings with a 7.06 ERA. He relies on four pitches: 4-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup.

Why we hate them