Location: PNC Park, Pittsburgh
TV: AT&T Sports Pittsburgh
Radio: 93.7 The Fan
Cardinals SB Nation Site: Vivaelbirdos.com
Cardinals: Kwang Hyn Kim – LHP – (6-6) — 3.27 ERA — 72 total Ks
Pirates: Wil Crowe – RHP – (3-7) – 4.46 ERA – 84 total Ks
Probable Starting Lineups (subject to change)
1. Tommy Edman — 2B
2. Paul Goldschmidt — 1B
3. Tyler O’Neill — LF
4. Nolan Arenado – 3B
5. Yadier Molina — C
6. Dylan Carlson — RF
7. Edmundo Sosa — SS
8. Harrison Bader — CF
9. Kwang Hyun Kim — P
1. Kevin Newman — SS
2. Ke’Bryan Hayes — 3B
3. Bryan Reynolds — CF
4. Colin Moran — 1B
5. Jacob Stallings — C
6. Yoshi Tsutsugo — RF
7. Cole Tucker — 2B
8. Anthony Alford — LF
9. Wil Crowe — P
The Pittsburgh Pirates will look to earn a split of their four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals when they meet at 1:05 p.m. today at PNC Park.
The Cardinals had little trouble in taking Saturday’s matchup, drubbing the Bucs 13-0. It was a rough night all the way around, as the Pirates also said goodbye to the walking lightning rod that is Gregory Polanco, releasing him before the game and calling up Cole Tucker from Indianapolis.
Polanco’s story is well-known; the bottom line is he’s a career 3.9 WAR player with 96 home runs, 362 RBIs, 98 stolen bases, a .241 batting average and a .718 OPS – and a 93 OPS+.
The site is expected to feature a full take on Polanco’s career Monday, so I’ll just say that I was one of Polanco’s most staunch supporters, and I truly believe that had he not destroyed his shoulder – and injured his knee – in September of 2018, he would have gone on to a solid major league career.
Tucker, meanwhile, could be getting his last shot at salvaging his Pirates career. The Pirates’ top pick in the 2014 draft – No. 24 overall – Tucker has proven to be a fine defender at shortstop and also has shown some versatility in the field. His problem? He simply hasn’t hit much beyond the High-A level in the minor leagues.
That was four years ago; since then, he’s hit .259/.689 at Altoona in 2018, .261/.759 at Indianapolis in 2019 and .223/.723 so far this season in 263 plate appearances with Indianapolis. Again, I’ve given Tucker the benefit of the doubt and thought that once he grew into his body, he’d no longer be overmatched with hard stuff at the plate and could be a useful utility-type player. That hasn’t happened yet – and it might never happen. Hopefully Derek Shelton will run Tucker out there enough over the next five weeks to see if he’s worth keeping.
Today’s Pirates starter, Wil Crowe, will be making his 20th start of the season and the results have been more down than up. In 89 innings, Crowe has given up 98 hits and 43 walks for a WHIP of 1.584 while striking out 84. I haven’t been impressed, but I’m also willing to keep running him out there, provided his arm is up to the task.
MINOR NOTES – It was a mixed bag for the Pirates’ High-A club at Greensboro Saturday night. The Grasshoppers (63-38) pounded Asheville 12-5 but starter Carmen Mlodzinski, the Pirates’ No. 10 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, gave up five hits and two earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. Mlodzinski, who missed more than a month this season due to injury, walked one and struck out two in 46 pitches. In three starts since returning to the active roster Mlodzinski has pitched a total of 5 2/3 innings and has given up 10 hits and six earned runs.
On offense, second baseman Nick Gonzales – the Pirates’ top pick in the 2020 draft – had two more hits and is up to .291/.870. His keystone mate Liover Peguero went 3 for 6 with three RBIs, two coming on his 13th homer of the season. Will Matthiessen, who is not ranked among the Pirates’ top 30 prospects, is on a tear at Greensboro; in his past 21 games covering 85 plate appearances, Matthiessen has seven homers and 31 RBIs despite striking out 25 times. The 23-year-old Matthiessen, a sixth-round pick in 2019 out of Stanford, is 6-foot-7, 220 pounds and bats right-handed. He has played mostly first base with a few appearances in right field.