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Series Preview: Bucs look to stay hot as they travel to Philly

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pirates are coming off a series sweep of the Cincinnati Reds as they travel to Philadelphia for a three-game stint against the crosstown rival Phillies.

The high expectations for Philadelphia coming into the 2019 season were apparently misguided as they’ve struggling to stay in the National League Wild Card race (1.5 GB) while sitting 11.5 games back of the division-leading Atlanta Braves.

As August comes to a close, Pittsburgh’s elimination number is 17 and they’ll need another strong series to help themselves climb out of the NL Central cellar. Through their last 10 games, they are .500 but still sit twenty games below .500 overall.

These two met back in mid-July at PNC and saw the Phillies take the series 2-1, outscoring the Pirates 9-7.


Monday, 7:05 p.m. - Joe Musgrove (8-12, 4.74 ERA) vs Jason Vargas (6-6, 3.99 ERA)

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. - Steven Brault (3-3, 3.98 ERA) vs Drew Smyly (2-6, 6.99 ERA)

Wednesday, 6:05 p.m. Mitch Keller (1-2, 7.24 ERA) vs Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.93 ERA)

All games are televised on AT&T SportsNet-PIT.

Reds Notes


-Jean Segura has been hot for Philly, hitting .387 with seven runs scored in 34 plate appearances. His walk rate (5.9%) shows his contact (.444 BABIP) has been very efficient in his last eight games.

-J.T. Realmuto’s .273 ISO is somewhat overshadowed by his .212 batting average through his last 38 plate appearances. While he’s hit two home runs with five RBIs, his contact has been pretty unlucky (.208 BABIP), but shows an above average wRC+ (105). Despite any shortcomings, he’s tied with Segura with a team-leading .4 WAR produced through the last week and a half.

-Bryce Harper has done a great job contributing offensively for the Phillies during his last 20 plate appearances. He returns to the lineup on Monday after missing a few starts due to paternity leave. Harper has hit .278 with two home runs and five RBIs. He’s also posted a .410 wOBA during this stretch.


-Since coming over from the New York Mets, Vargas has made four starts for the Phillies with mixed results (23 IP, 12 ER, 9 BB, 11 K). He’s faced the Bucs once already this year (as a Met) back on July 28th and allowed three ER (1 HR) in 5.2 IP with three walks and five strikeouts. Since June 5th, Vargas has allowed at least two ER in all but two starts.

-Another recent acquisition, Smyly came to the Phillies via the Texas Rangers back in late July. He started the first PHI/PIT series as a Phillie and pitched well at PNC (6 IP, 1 ER, 4-1 K/BB rate). His last four starts have not been good— 16 ER in 19.1 IP, 7-3 K/BB rate. Smyly has allowed 5+ ER in five starts since the start of June.

-Phillies vet Velasquez closes out the series on Wednesday for his first start against the Pirates in 2019. He’s bounced back and fourth between starter (59%) and reliever (41%) this season. His last several outings have been shaky at best with his previous start against the Miami Marlins being the worst. He pitched just 2.1 innings and surrendered seven earned runs on five hits. His previous starts in August have yielded eight earned runs in 19.2 innings pitched.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 EST on AT&T SportsNet- PIT.