The Pittsburgh Pirates will head on the road to AT&T Park on Sunday afternoon for their series finale against the San Francisco Giants.
The Pirates missed out on a chance to close the gap in the National League Wild Card race by falling to the Giants 13-10 in a high-scoring game on Friday night. Pittsburgh enters play on Saturday five games back of the Milwaukee Brewers for the final postseason spot in the NL, while the Giants have slid to seven games back after falling below the .500-mark.
Pirates to lean on Musgrove
The Pirates are scheduled to turn to right-hander Joe Musgrove for the conclusion of their series at AT&T Park on Sunday afternoon. Musgrove has completed seven innings or more in four straight outings and five of his last six starts overall, but is just 2-3 despite posting a solid 2.43 ERA during that span. The 25-year-old tossed seven innings of two-run ball (one earned) in his last start at Coors Field versus the Colorado Rockies. Musgrove struck out just two batters and walked none on the evening, but has found different ways to get outs on the mound this year.
While he isn’t posting the same strikeout numbers as he did in his first two career MLB stints, Musgrove has forced hitters to keep the ball on the ground this year, as evidenced by a stellar 46.5 percent ground ball rate in 74 innings of work at the MLB level. Since the All-Star Break, Musgrove is 1-2 with a 1.71 ERA. This will be his first career start against the Giants.
Rookie of the Year candidate?
The Giants will counter with rookie right-hander Dereck Rodriguez, who continues to bolster his case for National League Rookie of the Year. Rodriguez has tossed quality outings in seven consecutive starts and he’s been especially dominant over his past four outings, sporting a spectacular 1.02 ERA during that span. Rodriguez’s recent run of excellence has helped him lower his ERA to just 2.34 in 13 appearances (11 starts) this year, which is the best mark among rookies by a wide margin. Rodriguez twirled seven scoreless innings in his last trip to the mound versus the Houston Astros, limiting them to just three hits, while striking out seven batters and walking none on the night.
Despite his efforts, the 26-year-old was rendered with a no-decision in a 3-1 Giants’ loss, which has become a frustrating trend for him this season. Rodriguez has already posted six quality starts this season that have resulted no-decisions due to a lack of run support. This will be his first career start versus the Pirates