The Pirates won their first postseason round since the World Series of 1979 on Tuesday by defeating the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 in a one game wild card playoff. They will not have the benefit of PNC Park for games 1 and 2 against the veteran Cardinals, who they have faced 19 times this season.
The Bucs have a 10-9 record in the regular season against the Cards. The Cardinals, however, have outscored the Pirates 87-85. The Pirates led the Central Division for 55 games, until the Cardinals gained control the last month of the season. They swept them 3-0 in their last meeting in St. Louis. Sounds like a pretty even matchup.
The Cardinals have 11 players on their roster from the 2011 World Series championship team. Pitcher A. J. Burnett is the only player manager Clint Hurdle has with a ring and he will get the ball to start the series. He has a career ERA of 13.50 in Busch Stadium, 8.10 this season. His postseason experience alone will make him a two-game starter if needed this series.
There is no doubt if Adam Wainwright is the Cardinals’ true ace pitcher. If you take away his 2 IP, 9 R short outing against the Reds in late August, he has a 1.89 ERA in 16 home games. Many believe he will finish high in the Cy Young voting.
We all know Andrew McCutchen is a star, earning three All-Star game appearances, Gold Glove, and a Silver Slugger. He reached base all four times in his first ever postseason game Tuesday. In three games against Wainwright, he has never batted below .429.
The Cardinals have their own NL MVP candidate with catcher Yadier Molina (.319, 12 HR, 80 RBI). The most important stat for this series will be that he catches runners stealing 43.5% of the time. He will need his arm with players like Starling Marte running the bases.
Game 1: Thursday at St. Louis (4:07 p.m.)
Game 2: Friday, at St. Louis (12:07 p.m.)
Game 3: Sunday, at Pittsburgh (TBA)
x-Game 4: Monday, Oct. 7, at Pittsburgh (TBA)
x-Game 5: Wednesday, Oct. 9, at St. Louis (TBA)
(All games on TBS or MLB Network).
(x designates if needed)
Pirates: RH A.J. Burnett (10-11, 3.30 ERA), RH Gerrit Cole, (10-7, 3.22), LH Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02), RH Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.26).
Cardinals: RH Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94), RH Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97), RH Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69), RH Shelby Miller (15-9, 3.06, led ML in rookie wins).