Pittsburgh Pirates (17-23) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (23-18) - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 @ 7:45 p.m.
Stadium: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Mo.
TV: AT&T SportsNet PIT2
Radio: 93.7 The Fan
SB Nation Cardinals site: www.vivaelbirdos.com
Pirates: JT Brubaker - RHP - (3-2) – 2.58 ERA - 41 total Ks
Cardinals: John Gant – RHP - (2-3) – 1.83 ERA – 29 total Ks
Probable Starting Lineups (subject to last-minute changes)
1. Adam Frazier – 2B
2. Kevin Newman – SS
3. Bryan Reynolds – CF
4. Will Craig – 1B
5. Gregory Polanco – RF
6. Erik Gonzalez – 3B
7. Ka’ai Tom – LF
8. Michael Perez – C
9. JT Brubaker – P
1. Tommy Edman – 2B
2. Dylan Carlson – RF
3. Paul Goldschmidt – 1B
4. Nolan Arenado – 3B
5. Yadier Molina – C
6. Harrison Bader – CF
7. Justin Williams – LF
8. Edmundo Sosa – SS
9. John Gant – P
The Pittsburgh Pirates will look to start their six-game road trip on the right foot when they meet NL Central rival St. Louis in the first game of a quick two-game series at 7:45 p.m. at Busch Stadium.
JT Brubaker gets the start for the Bucs and will look to build upon what is shaping up as a solid season. The young right-hander has exceeded expectations thus far with a 3-2 record and a 2.58 ERA, and in four of his seven starts, he has held the opposition to one run.
Brubaker has yet to allow more than three runs in any of his starts this season. His lone outing in which he allowed three runs came against these same Cardinals on April 30, as the Pirates lost a 7-3 decision at PNC Park.
In that game, Brubaker allowed seven hits and three earned runs in five innings. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter.
His most recent outing came on May 11 against Cincinnati, in which he went six innings and held the Reds to five hits and one earned run while striking out four and walking one.
John Gant, meanwhile, sports an ERA even better than Brubaker’s 2.58 mark, as he enters the game with a 1.83 ERA despite giving up an average of 7.1 walks per nine innings.
Gant will be making his second start against the Pirates. He picked up a win against Brubaker in that April 30 game, as he held the Pirates to one run and three hits over five innings. He did walk five batters and struck out two.
The Pirates are coming off a four-game split with the San Francisco Giants, a series that included back-to-back walk-off wins. The Bucs are 4-4 over their last eight games.
Individually, Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier continues to swing a hot bat. So far in the month of May Frazier – who leads the National League in hits with 51 — is hitting .361 with a .418 on-base percentage and an OPS of .959. In 15 games, he has gone 22 for 61 with six doubles, a triple, a home run and three RBIs. He’s struck out just seven times and walked five times.
The Cardinals boast a formidable lineup that includes newcomer Nolan Arenado, whose departure from the hitting friendly atmosphere of Coors Field hasn’t seemed to hurt him much. So far in 41 games, Arenado is hitting .300 with a .915 OPS. In 160 at-bats, Arenado has 13 doubles, nine home runs and 28 RBIs.
The Cardinals have two other players with at least 20 RBIs in Yadier Molina (20) and Paul Goldschmidt (22); the Pirates’ top RBI man is Colin Moran with 19. Moran remains on the 10-day injured list while recovering from a left groin strain.
NOTES – The Pirates made a trade Tuesday, sending right-hander Sean Poppen to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations. The Bucs picked up Poppen off waivers from the Twins on Oct. 1, two days after he’d been designated for assignment. The Pirates designated Poppen for assignment on May 13 in order to promote Will Craig from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Poppen, 27, has enjoyed success in the minor leagues, crafting a 3.39 ERA in parts of five seasons. He was mostly a starter in the minors but he has yet to start a game in the big leagues, relieving in all 13 of his appearances.
He appeared in just three games with the Pirates this season, giving up 11 hits and seven runs – four of them earned – in 4 2/3 innings for an ERA of 7.71. He walked two and struck out four. He also appeared in two games for Triple-A Indianapolis, giving up two runs in four innings.
Poppen made 10 appearances for the Twins in 2019 and 2020, compiling a combined 6.19 ERA in 16 innings.
In other news, the Bucs announced Tuesday that PNC Park would be open to full capacity by July 1. First, however, the club will begin operating with roughly a three-foot social distancing setup between seating allotments beginning Thursday, June 3, and running through Wednesday, June 23. That will result in the potential for 55% capacity at PNC Park.
Then, starting July 1, the park will operate at full capacity, with all seating restrictions lifted.
Tickets for the remainder of the season will go on sale Wednesday, May 26.