The Pittsburgh Pirates (36-60, 15-34 away) conclude a West Coast road swing with a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants (61-35, 30-13 home) beginning Friday night. Pittsburgh and San Francisco have met four times this season, with both teams winning a pair of games.
Friday night’s contest is scheduled for a 9:45 p.m. EST first pitch inside Oracle Park in San Francisco, CA. According to oddsmakers, the Giants are the betting favorite (-175), and the run total is 8.5.
What to Know – Pittsburgh Pirates
The rebuilding Pirates continue to struggle this season with one of the worst records in baseball. After taking two of three from the Mets to beginning the second half of play, Pittsburgh was swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in three games earlier this week. The Pirates find themselves at the bottom of the National League Central standings.
Right-hander Chad Kuhl (3-5, 4.31 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) is scheduled to start for Pittsburgh against the Giants. Kuhl’s been unhittable in July, posting a microscopic 0.82 ERA over two starts. The 28-year old shut down the Mets in his last start, firing 5.0 innings and allowing only two hits and no runs.
The Pirates are 17th in the majors and 9th in the NL with a .239 team batting average but last in the MLB in runs scored (350). Outfielder Bryan Reynolds was selected for his first All-Star Game appearance this year and is performing at a high level at the dish. Reynolds leads the Pirates’ offense in home runs (17) and runs driven in (54).
What to Know – San Francisco Giants
San Francisco is one of the surprise teams in the majors this year with their play over the first half of the season. The Giants are 26 games over .500 and have the best record in the National League. San Francisco sits atop the NL West division, three games clear of the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Veteran starter Johnny Cueto (6-5, 4.01 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) gets the nod on the bump for the hosts. The 35-year old’s been roughed up this month, sporting a 5.63 ERA across three starts with a pair of losses. Cueto took a no-decision in his last trip to the mound, holding the St. Louis Cardinals to one run over five innings of work.
San Francisco hits .244 as a team and ranks third in the NL, averaging 4.9 runs per game. Shortstop Brandon Crawford has a .286 batting average and ranks 4th amongst shortstops with 18 home runs and 58 RBIs. Crawford’s success at the plate was good enough to get him selected for the third All-Star appearance of his career.
The Pick is In
Two teams with respectable offenses going against a pair of starters with mediocre stuff lend us to side for the over in this one. Kuhl’s been dominant in recent starts but tends to struggle on the road. Pittsburgh’s offense is good enough to score a handful off of Cueto, whose best years are behind him.
The Pick: Pirates/Giants OVER 8.5