LOS ANGELES DODGERS
at PITTSBURGH PIRATES
First pitch: Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
The Pirates will be hoping to earn a big series victory against the Dodgers, and that starts with a meeting at PNC Park on Monday.
The Dodgers have been the most dominant team in baseball all season, and they have to be starting to think about the postseason at this point. They have flamed out in the playoffs before, so they know that everything they are doing right now doesnít matter in the grand scheme of things. An incredible regular season is surely memorable, but it means nothing without winning the World Series. As for the Pirates, this team is in desperation mode at this point in the season. Pittsburgh is currently battling for the top spot in the NL Central, but the team is behind the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals right now. Not much separates the four teams, but the Pirates need to put together a nice winning streak soon. A sweep at the hands of the Dodgers is the last thing that Pittsburgh needs, but itís always a possibility with the way that Los Angeles has been playing. The starters in this Monday night matchup are going to be LHP Alex Wood (14-1 2.30 ERA, 122 K) for the Dodgers and RHP Gerrit Cole (10-8, 4.04 ERA, 141 K) for the Pirates. The Dodgers might appear to have the edge there, but Cole is very talented and can certainly come through with a big performance here.
The Dodgers are on fire right now and Alex Wood is going to do his best to earn them a victory on Monday. Wood has been absolutely ridiculous this season and he hasnít necessarily slowed down lately. He has allowed only four earned runs over his past three starts, and he has allowed one or fewer earned runs in seven of his past 10 starts. Wood also struck out 11 batters in five shutout inning against the Pirates on May 8, so he knows what it takes to get it done against this lineup. Expect him to at least be solid on Monday. As for the offense in this game, 2B Logan Forsythe is a guy that might be able to produce here. He is 3-for-3 against Cole in his career, so he clearly likes what he sees when going against the righty. Forsythe also happens to be a guy that hasnít done too much for the Dodgers this year, so itíd be big to get some unexpected production from him. Also, OF Yasiel Puig is 5-for-9 with two doubles and an RBI against Cole. He can also spark this team by coming through at the plate.
The Pirates arenít in a great position, but they can still make it to the postseason if they put together a nice winning streak. Cole can get it started on Monday, as the righty is still one of the more talented pitchers in the game. He has struggled to put it together over the past few years, but the ability is there. He also has pitched pretty well as of late, as he has seen his ERA drop from 4.51 to 4.04 over his past nine outings. He has also struck out eight or more batters in four of the past eight games, so he clearly has his stuff working right now. Itíd be big if he can turn in a quality start in this one. On offense, itíll be OFs Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte that will be counted on to come through here. McCutchen has had a very good season for Pittsburgh, and Marte has started to come on strong as of late. It would not be surprising if both do something to drive in runs here, but it is going to be tough against a pitcher like Wood.