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Game Thread: Pirates in desperate need of a studly performance as Trevor Williams faces the Dodgers

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Pittsburgh Pirates v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Trevor Williams (5-3, 3.84) will try to hold the Dodgers bats at bay as he waits for his teammates to score some runs behind him, which they’ve failed to do since Saturday. Meanwhile the Dodgers send out 21 year old left-hander Caleb Ferguson, who will be making his major league debut.

The 6-3, 215 pond Ferguson started his season at Double-A Tulsa, where he logged a 1.38 in eight starts, including four straight in which he held his opponents scoreless. From there he made two more starts at Triple-A Oklahoma City, allowing two runs in eight innings.

A scouting report from True Blue LA:

Ferguson primarily pitches off of his high spin four seam fastball, which sits around 92 mph in the early innings but he can reach 94 mph when he needs it. His velocity did tend to tail off to 90-91 mph in the middle innings but he didn’t show signs of laboring in his mechanics or command. His fastball has slight armside run, and he primarily pitches up in the zone and can keep the ball above the barrel. The fastball wasn’t a true swing and miss pitch, but he was able to keep hitters from squaring it up much.

Ferguson’s primary strikeout pitch is a high-spin curve ball that is more notable for its tremendous depth than it’s velocity. His curveball sat between 73-76 mph but broke late and steeply on hitters. He had some issues keeping the pitch in the zone when I saw him, but hitters also struggled to square it up. Despite the spin and break depth, he could stand to add some velocity to the pitch to sharpen the break.

Ferguson has a change up but uses it sparingly and throws it quite firm in the mid to upper 80s. The change up was also the pitch hitters were most likely to put in play. He doesn’t need fade to be effective, but will need to show better control to keep from catching too much plate with the pitch.

In Ferguson’s minor league career, he owns a 2.80 ERA in 249 innings, averaging 3.5 walks and 9.7 strikeouts every nine innings. He’s been very tough on left-handed batters, allowing only a .425 OPS to them this year and .579 in 2017, compared to .607 and .719 by right-handed batters.

Therefor, Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle is giving Gregory Polanco the day off, but still has Colin Moran, Corey Dickerson and Austin Meadows in the lineup - along with Sean Rodriguez, again subbing for the ailing Jordy Mercer at shortstop. However, Josh Bell is getting the night off.

The Dodgers have shuffled their lineup a bit, as Justin Turner is back in at third, while Max Muncy slides over to first base and Cody Bellinger to center field, giving Joc Pederson the boot.

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DODGERS

1 R Chris Taylor SS

2 L Max Muncy 1B

3 R Justin Turner 3B

4 R Matt Kemp LF

5 L Cody Bellinger CF

6 R Yasiel Puig RF

7 R Logan Forsythe 2B

8 R Austin Barnes C

9 R Caleb Ferguson LHP

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PIRATES

1 R Josh Harrison 2B

2 L Austin Meadows RF

3 RStarling Marte CF

4 R Francisco Cervelli C

5 L Corey Dickerson LF

6 R David Freese 1B

7 L Colin Moran 3B

8 R Sean Rodriguez SS

9 R Trevor Williams RHP