The Braves will look to exact some revenge on the Pirates in a three-game series at Turner Field this week. The last time these two met earlier this season, Atlanta lost three of four in Pittsburgh to a Pirates team that currently possesses a share of the second-best record in the NL.
Winners of 10 of their last 14, the Pirates get the job done by pitching: their staff ERA of 3.15 is second in the NL only to St. Louis. Their offense has scored just 214 runs, as many as the 22-32 Mets (who, as an aside, got swept by the Marlins). Leading the rotation is, to some surprise, Jeff Locke. The 25-year-old lefty enters the series having tossed 19.2 consecutive scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts, and is fifth in the NL with a 2.25 ERA; however, he has an FIP of 4.13. Locke also has the highest LOB% of Pittsburgh's starters at 85.9%. Atlanta knocked three home runs against Locke in his start April 18, but received a no-decision.
A.J. Burnett, Monday's starter, and Kris Medlen have something in common in that they've both received poor run support. Despite a 2.72 ERA and the Pirates winning his last start, Burnett lost three decisions in a row (four starts) because the offense behind him scored a total of five runs in that stretch, so it's no surprise to see Burnett with the fifth-lowest run support of all qualified starters in MLB (2.67); Medlen is tied for seventh (2.82).
Pittsburgh's other starter in this series, Wandy Rodriguez, suffered a loss in his start after earning a win in each of his last four outings. He shut out the Braves on just one hit over seven innings in his April 19 start. Atlanta may be able to get to Rodriguez this time around, as he has not pitched as well in road games as he has at home: a 5.96 ERA and a .306 opponent batting average has Rodriguez in five starts away from Pittsburgh.
For the offense, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen have been the two best hitters for the Pirates, hitting .287 and .284 respectively. Marte, though, has just two hits in his last 19 at-bats. McCutchen was held to just two hits in three games against Cincinnati, both in the series finale. Marte and McCutchen also have 29 of the team's 37 stolen bases; Marte's 15 steals are tied for second in the NL.
Pedro Alvarez has been the team's top run producer and power threat: his 11 home runs and 30 RBI lead the Pirates despite a .199 batting average and .262 OBP. Garrett Jones, though, can provide quite a bit of pop as well. He has but six home runs, but his last one was a game-tying, 440-ft. bomb that dropped in the river beyond right field (video here).
One other note is that among their last 10 wins, four of them have been by a 1-0 score.
Monday, June 3, 7:10 p.m. ET
#54 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Oct 07, 1985
|2013 - Kris Medlen||1-6||3.48||1.36||48||24|
#34 / Pitcher / Pittsburgh Pirates
Jan 03, 1977
|2013 - A.J. Burnett||3-5||2.72||1.09||89||29|
Tuesday, June 4, 7:10 p.m. ET
#36 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Dec 26, 1987
|2013 - Mike Minor||7-2||2.48||0.92||66||14|
#49 / Pitcher / Pittsburgh Pirates
Nov 20, 1987
|2013 - Jeff Locke||5-1||2.25||1.17||42||26|
Wednesday, June 5, 12:10 p.m. ET
#49 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jan 27, 1991
|2013 - Julio Teheran||3-2||3.71||1.32||44||13|