The Pittsburgh Pirates are well-positioned to win an away contest against the St. Louis Cardinals Friday in game two of their National League Division Series. The big concern for the Cardinals in this match-up is how their starter Lance Lynn will perform.
Last year, Lynn tired so much in the middle of the second half that the club put him in the bullpen for three weeks to limit his innings. This year, Lynn tired again around the same time, but rather than easing off he stayed in the starting rotation. In both years, he had a decent bounce back in final weeks of the season.
But if last year is an indicator of how Lynn holds up in the post-season when taxed (and, remember, he wasn’t as taxed in 2012 as in 2013), then it’s a bad sign. In two playoff starts last year, he went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA. He also pitched a bit in relief during the 2012 post-season and, even in that role, the results weren’t good - he threw 3 2/3 innings and gave up three runs.
Another issue with Lynn is his performance versus the Pirates. The last time he threw against Pittsburgh he was shelled for seven runs and ten hits in four innings. In his most recent outing versus the Pirates at Busch Stadium, he was only slightly better, giving up four runs and eight hits in five 1/3 innings pitched. Overall, in 198 plate appearances, the Pirates’ hitters have a strong cumulative line of .276 (batting average), .362 (on base percentage) and .453 (slugging percentage).
Pittsburgh will counter with pitcher Gerrit Cole. The former number one overall draft pick has lived up to expectations in his rookie season. He posted a 10-7 record and a 3.22 ERA. But what was remarkable about Cole was his consistency. He only allowed more than three earned runs once in his 19 starting appearances, and he registered a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three earned runs or less allowed) in each of his last eight starts.
Another advantage for Cole: he was a better pitcher on the road (2.38 ERA) than at home (3.75). It’s also worth noting that not a single batter on the Cardinals’ roster has had even one Major League at bat against Cole. For a pitcher of Cole’s caliber this is an advantage as hitters will have to adjust to the pitcher’s considerable skill.
Take the Pirates, who are on at 2.20 to win this contest.
Back the Pittsburgh Pirates against the St Louis Cardinals at 2.20
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