The National League Wild Card race is heating up. Entering play Wednesday, the Washington Nationals hold the top spot by a game over the Philadelphia Phillies. The St. Louis Cardinals are just a half-game behind Philadelphia, while the Milwaukee Brewers are a full game back. The red-hot New York Mets have climbed to within 1 ½ games of the Phillies, while the Arizona Diamondbacks (2 ½ games back), San Francisco Giants (3 ½), Cincinnati Reds (4 ½), and San Diego Padres (6 ½) are all lurking.
One team that was in the hunt as recently as a month ago was the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they have since fallen off the face of the earth. The Pirates enter Wednesday’s game as losers of four straight overall, and they’re now the second-worst team in the National League ahead of only the Marlins. Pittsburgh has free-fallen to 17 games south of the .500 mark thanks to an absolutely brutal post-All-Star stretch. The Pirates haven’t won a series since winning two of three against the Brewers in the final series before the break. That was a month ago.
Milwaukee will be looking to finish off a three-game sweep of the Bucs on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. The Brewers have taken the first two games by a combined score of 13-10, and Drew Pomeranz will make his first start for his new team tonight. Trevor Williams will toe the rubber for the Pirates.
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Pomeranz’ Strange Season
Pomeranz started the year with the Giants, where he struggled out of the gates. His season-long numbers are still quite ugly, as he has a record of just 2-9 with a bloated 5.54 ERA. The Giants eventually took the left-hander out of the rotation, though, and he has thrived ever since. As a reliever this season, Pomeranz has still yet to allow a run through 7 ⅓ innings of work. He has also struck out 13 of the 24 hitters he’s faced while allowing just three total hits.
The Giants were able to parlay that strong bullpen showing from Pomeranz into a decent prospect at the deadline by shipping him to the Brewers. The southpaw has put together a pair of scoreless relief appearances since donning the Milwaukee uniform, but tonight will be his first start. However, since he’s no longer stretched out, the Brewers are slated to roll with a bullpen game in tonight’s series finale.
Pomeranz has struggled to contain right-handed hitters this season, but the Pirates have been absolutely abysmal against left-handed pitching. The projected Pittsburgh lineup has a tiny .141 ISO against lefties this season. They don’t strike out much (15.3%), but the lack of power in the lineup makes this look like a pretty breezy matchup on paper for the newest member of the Brewers.
The Brewer bullpen hasn’t been as good this season as it was a year ago, but it’s still an above-average unit that will be coming in behind Pomeranz tonight.
Trevor Williams’ Ups-and-Downs
Trevor Williams has been a serviceable starter for the Pirates over the last few years, but this season, he’s struggled a bit more. Williams has never been a big strikeout pitcher, and that’s true again this season. His K-rate of 18.9% is below average, but he also doesn’t get himself into trouble with walks (5.6%). His 4.75 ERA and 4.76 SIERA are in lock step, and his fly ball tendency doesn’t come back to haunt him all that often in his spacious home park.
Williams’ primary issue this season has been left-handed hitters. The right-hander has fared well against his fellow righties (.294 wOBA allowed), but lefties have been crushing him. Left-handed hitters own a massive .380 wOBA against him on the season, and his strikeout stuff just doesn’t play to LHBs at all. He has a K-rate over 22% against righties, but it plummets to about 14% against opposite-handed hitters.
He also allows fewer ground balls and more hard hits to lefties, and the Brewers have a lineup full of good LHBs. Tonight, Williams will have to battle against the likes of Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas, Eric Thames, and Yasmani Grandal, who will all hold the platoon advantage against him. PNC Park also plays up lefty power better than righty power, so it’s about as bad a matchup on paper as you can find for the Pirates’ starter tonight.
Bullpen games tend to be less predictable, but a decent Brewers bullpen should be able to hold its own against this watered-down version of the Pirates. Pittsburgh looks like a team that has almost completely given up, so I like Pomeranz to set the tone with a couple of quality innings to get the Brewers at Pirates game started.
I like the Brewers quite a bit tonight. The value is better in taking them to cover the runline (+125) than going with the moneyline (-125), so that’s the bet I’d make here.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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