The Giants will head to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates riding a three-game winning streak, a small sliver of joy in a season in which they have a 30-51 record. Pittsburgh is six games under .500 itself but is only four games back in the National League Central.
The trading deadline is coming soon, and the Giants will certainly be sellers if they have some players others are interested in at the right price. The Pirates are hoping to prove they can still make the playoffs, but they need to do well in this series and in the next few weeks to sell that point to the front office.
This series will be contested from Friday, June 30 through Sunday, July 2, 2017 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland.
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It will be a matchup of aces in the series opener, with the Giants sending out Johnny Cueto, the team’s best pitcher with Madison Bumgarner on the shelf. Cueto is 5-7 with a 4.20 ERA on the season and has only given up three runs over his past two starts. Cueto has a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio and should see his ERA decrease as the year goes on. The Pirates will counter with Gerrit Cole, who is 6-6 with a 4.11 ERA.
In the second game of the series, the Giants will start Matt Moore. He is 3-8 with a 6.04 ERA on the season, and while the left-hander has a nice strikeout rate, he is allowing batters to hit .299 against him. The Pirates will send out Chad Kuhl, who has a 2-6 record and a 5.58 ERA. Kuhl is also letting batters tee off, so this one could be an offensive battle if neither pitcher can straighten up.
The series finale will feature San Francisco’s Jeff Samardzija against Pittsburgh’s Trevor Williams. It’s been a weird season for Samardzija. He is just 3-9 with a 4.63 ERA but has an elite strikeout-to-walk ratio of 117-13. Samardzija has given up too many homers this season, but if he can fix that issue he could have an outstanding outing. Williams is 3-3 with a 4.82 ERA and has held his own in the past month-plus in the rotation after beginning the season in the bullpen.
A Possible Showcase Start
Cole is the Pirates’ top pitcher and he could be trade bait if the team can’t get back into the playoff race. The 26-year-old right-hander has a career ERA of 3.36 and has impressive stuff. Pittsburgh would love to hold on to him, but if a team offers up enough prospects it could be hard not to send him away to help the rebuild.
Cole hasn’t been as good as usual this season, but there are no big issues. A contending team like the Houston Astros could decide it needs another front-line starter and try to make a push for a pitcher in the mold of Cole.
There figure to be a lot of other teams watching when he takes the hill in this matchup leading up to the deadline.
The Giants will be without the services of closer Mark Melancon. He is on the 10-day disabled list with a forearm injury, which is a big blow to San Francisco when it is looking to lock up wins in close ballgames.
Melancon wasn’t his typically dominant self early in the season, but when healthy he is one of the more dominant closers in the major leagues. Sam Dyson will take over the closer’s role, but he struggled mightily earlier this season with the Texas Rangers and things could get dicey if he gets the ball late in a one-run game in this series.
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