Entering the confident confines of Globe Life Park are the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight and tomorrow. The Texas Rangers will try to stay hot at home.
The Texas Rangers scored more runs in their last two games than the Pittsburgh Pirates have scored in their last 11. Just thought I’d begin with that fun stat. Does that mean Texas will outscore Pittsburgh over the next two days? No. But you certainly have to like a hot offense vs. a struggling one.
The matchup is interesting, really. Pittsburgh has the 7th best team ERA in Major League Baseball while the Texas staff ranks 29th. The Rangers offense is best in MLB averaging 6.0 runs per game while the Pirates offense ranks 28th averaging 3.23. It seems we’re in for an unpredictable series.
Then there’s the fact that the Texas Rangers are 10-4 at home this season, averaging close to seven runs per game. The Pirates are a modest 6-6 on the road.
Sampson will get his first nod since April 20th against the Houston Astros. He pitched well that evening, allowing two earned runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings pitched.
A lengthy outing from him would be appreciated, but it’s not essential. Seven innings pitched from Mike Minor on Saturday, seven innings from Lance Lynn on Sunday and a day off yesterday should have the bullpen ready to take on any load necessary.
Lyles has one road outing this year. He tossed six innings, allowed run one and struck out 10 Chicago Cubs in an April 10th start at Wrigley Field. While he dominated left-handed hitters in 2018, he’s struggled against them thus far in 2019, giving up a slash line of .275/.326/.525.
Miller’s stats still look rough; however, he’s softened the eye test in each of his last two starts. He was hitting 97 mph on the gun against the Mariners on Friday. He was also spotting his curveball better than in past starts. Still, control was a lasting issue. He afforded five base on balls to Mariners’ hitters, getting him into trouble towards the end of his five innings pitched.
Taillon has been considerably better at home than on the road. His road ERA is nearly a full point higher, and his opponent’s batting average is 65 points higher. He has been outstanding against left-handed hitters, keeping them to a .207 batting average and .276 SLG.
Jeff Banister will return to Globe Life Park for the first time since his firing last September. He took on a special assistant role with Pittsburgh in the offseason. He did a lot of good while managing the Rangers, but his time here ended abruptly. Given each end of the spectrum, the reaction to his return will likely be met with indifference.
That said, surely Banister’s former players and the Rangers’ new skipper will want to show that they’re on a fine path without him. We’ll see if the club’s intentions are expressed with active bats and stellar arms later on tonight.