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Game Thread: Taking on the Cole Train

San Diego Padres v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates go to Houston for the first time since 2012, where they will send Trevor Williams (2-1, 4.12) to the mound to face former Pirate Gerrit Cole (6-5, 3.54) in a game scheduled to begin at 8:10 p.m. Eastern.

Cole is familiar to most Pirates fans, having been their first overall pick in the 2011 draft, later to spend five season pitching in Pittsburgh, but he hasn’t been quite the same pitcher since arriving in Houston via a trade that netted the Pirates Joe Musgrove, Colin Moran, Michael Feliz and Jason Martin.

As an Astro, Cole has upped his four-seam fastball velocity to a mean of 96.7 this year, and combined with a devastating slider has produced 12.9 strikeouts per 9 innings with Houston, compared to 8.4 with Pittsburgh, and this year is a career best 13.8 as Cole is on schedule for a 300 strikeout season.

He is, however, giving up home runs in the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park at a rate of 1.5 per 9 innings (16 in 16 starts), the highest of his career. So far this year left-handed batters are hitting for a 689 OPS vs Cole, on a 214/290/399 line, vs a 598 OPS by right-handers, 198/234/365. Lefties have a .329 BABIP and walk at a rate twice as high as righties, but still strike out at a 40% rate.

Williams will be making his second start for the Pirates since being reinstated from a 33 day sting on the injured list. In his return Williams was touched up for seven runs on nine hits in just five innings by the Tigers.

On the year, Williams has allowed a 787 OPS to left-handed batters (301/347/441) while 680 to right-handers (237/273/407), although the Astros will send only send three of their nine batters up from the left side.

Bryan Reynolds was a late scratch from the lineup, replaced by Jose Osuna. Reynolds is still suffering from a sore shin as a result of being hit by a foul tip.



1 R Kevin Newman SS

2 L Corey Dickerson LF

3 R Starling Marte CF

4 S Josh Bell DH

5 S Melky Cabrera RF

6 L Colin Moran 3B

7 R Jose Osuna 1B

8 R Elias Diaz C

9 L Adam Frazier 2B

Trevor William RHP



1 R George Springer CF

2 R Jose Altuve 2B

2 R Alex Bregman SS

4 L Michael Brantley LF

5 L Yordan Alvarez DH

6 R Yuliesky Gourriel 3B

7 L Josh Reddick RF

8 R Tyler White 1B

9 R Robinson Chirinos C

Gerrit Cole RHP