Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Dates: Monday, August 21, 2017 – Thursday, August 24, 2017
Location: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
The Los Angeles Dodgers lost on Sunday, snapping a six-game winning streak. Despite the loss, the Dodgers remain the game’s best team, bringing an 87-35 record into play against Pittsburgh. Los Angeles is 33-7 in its last 40 games and has been on a historic pace since June. Here in the second half, the team is 26-6.
For the Dodgers, this series doesn’t carry too much meaning. L.A. already looks locked for the NL West crown. Really, the only thing this team is playing for now is home field advantage throughout the playoffs and they’ve got a considerable leg up on the competition for that honor, too.
On the Pirates side, they too lack motivation. They’re down and out in the postseason picture and are now in the role of spoilers. They’re essentially playing for pride right now.
Pittsburgh has now won back-to-back games against the Cardinals, but that came on the heels of a six-game losing streak that effectively eliminated their already slim postseason hopes. The Pirates offense has picked it up recently after a considerable cold spell. Right now, it’s the pitching that’s struggling.
Game 1 Probable Pitchers – Monday, August 21, 2017, 7:05 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Alex Wood ( Dodgers ) vs. Gerrit Cole ( Pirates )
With Clayton Kershaw and now Yu Darvish injured, Alex Wood is the de facto ace of this staff right now after starting the year in the bullpen. The young southpaw just blew up with the chance to start early on and the Dodgers have been smart enough to run with it. At 14-1, Wood owns the NL’s best winning percentage and his 2.30 ERA shows how strong he’s been. With a 2.70 FIP, 1.014 WHIP and a 4.07 strikeout to walk ratio, the peripheral numbers match with the standard ones. He’s been great all year. After a couple of rough outings at the end of July, Wood is back to his dominant self, allowing four runs in 19 August innings with just 19 hits and three walks.
Gerrit Cole snapped a seven-consecutive quality start string with a six-inning, four-run performance against the Brewers. Cole’s regressed since his strong month of July and has allowed five homers and 10 runs over 20 innings in the month of August. Over his career, Cole has struggled against the Dodgers, pitching to a 5.22 ERA in five starts. Interestingly, the right-hander’s home ERA is better than his road numbers, but he’s managed just two wins in 11 starts at PNC.
Game 2 Probable Pitchers – Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 7:05 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Brock Stewart ( Dodgers ) vs. Jameson Taillon ( Pirates )
The rookie right-hander is expected back to make the start in place of the injured Yu Darvish on Tuesday though the official announcement has not been made. Brock Stewart has made nine big league appearances this year—including two starts—his numbers are rather impressive in the limited sample size with a 1.64 ERA, but he’s struggled in his starts with a few unearned runs scoring. Stewart was strong in his last start for Triple-A Oklahoma City, throwing five innings and allowing just two hits and two walks in the process.
Jameson Taillon is another young gun slated to get the start on Tuesday. Taillon, however, is a much higher touted arm and has had a fair amount more big league success in his young career. The righties’ numbers this year are not very strong. He’s got a 4.64 ERA and 1.505 WHIP. Those numbers are a bit misleading as nine-run and eight-run game have skewed the numbers. Those two starts came back-to-back and Taillon has had a couple quality starts since then, though he allowed four runs in five frames in the last start.
Game 3 Probable Pitchers – Wednesday, August 23, 2017, 7:05 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Rich Hill ( Dodgers ) vs. Trevor Williams ( Pirates )
Rich Hill is not a starter the Dodgers can count on to go deep in games, but he’s typically able to give the team five or six strong innings before the deep bullpen takes over from there. Hill’s big, sweeping curveball is his key to success and that curve has been working. July was a dynamic month for the veteran southpaw. August hasn’t been quite as strong, but he’s still not going to allow more than three runs per start.
The Dodgers rocked Trevor Williams when they faced the rookie back on May, putting up eight runs on the young right-hander in just three innings. That was Williams’ first start of the season. Despite the poor performance, Clint Hurdle stuck with him and he’s provided a few strong outings. The Dodgers start was his worst outing until his last one when he allowed eight runs—again—in three innings, including three homers to a much less consistent Cardinals lineup.
Game 4 Probable Pitchers – Thursday, August 24, 2017, 1:05 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Hyun-Jin Ryu ( Dodgers ) vs. Chad Kuhl ( Pirates )
Ryu represents yet another southpaw for the Dodgers in this series, but the Pirates have been better against Ryu than the others. In 42 at-bats, active Pirates hitters are 14-for-42 for a .333 average and have a cumulative .349 OBP against him. Despite all of that, Andrew McCutchen is the only Pirate with a long ball against him.
Chad Kuhl is not the official starter for Thursday, but it would be his turn in the rotation and he’s coming off a strong five-inning performance against the Cardinals, allowing one runs on three hits. Kuhl is little more than a five-and-dive starter, but typically gives the Bucs five serviceable frames before turning things over to the bullpen. Kuhl is another young arm for the Pirates, but the Dodger roughed him up for four runs in five innings in the only game he’s pitched against them in his career.