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What can we expect from James Marvel today?

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Following his very succesful major league debut against the Cardinals last week, Pirates recent call-up James Marvel is set to take on the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field on Saturday. So what can Pirates fans expect to see from the 25-year-old righty today?

The most impressive aspect of Marvel’s showing on Sunday against St. Louis was his ability to induce ground balls. He throws a pretty nice mix of curveballs, four-seam fastballs, and the occasional changeup, but his bread and butter is the sinker that sits between 88 and 90 mph. In Marvel’s 5.0+ innings of work, he induced nine ground outs (with a sacrifice bunt tacked on) and seven of those came on sinkers. That’s a pretty repeatable trend that he has shown a track record of accomplishing in the minors as well.

Getting soft contact on the ground is going to be especially important on Saturday in Wrigley, as the wind seems to be blowing out similarly to Friday afternoon. Vegas’ current run total is sitting at 10, implying that some homers or fly balls in the gaps should be aided by the Chicago gusts. With that in mind and considering the lineup he’s facing in his second career MLB start on the road, it’s almost silly to ask Marvel to avoid allowing any home runs at all. However, if he can keep runners off base with soft contact and well-placed strikes like he did in his debut, that one homer shouldn’t hurt too bad.

So all-in-all I suppose my tempered expectations for Marvel today would lead to a pitching line like 6.1 innings pitched, four runs (three earned) on seven hits and one walk. We’ll give him four strikeouts and hope that the curve and changeup look good today. I’m hoping of those 19 outs (15 in play) that we can see another 10 ground ball outs or so. Limit the fly balls and hard hit liners as much as possible. I don’t know if that will be enough to get him his first win against Kyle Hendricks with a Josh Bell-less lineup, but if he can avoid a blow-up game in this trecherous spot in career spot number two, I’ll be pretty happy in the grand scheme of things.

Let me know your thoughts/concerns/expectations in the comments below, and always feel free to hit me up on Twitter @BellRoto. Let’s go Bucs!