Philadelphia Phillies (14-23; 22-15 O/U) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (17-23; 17-21-2 O/U)
MLB: Friday, May 19, 2017 at 7:05pm EST
Line: Pittsburgh -108/Philadelphia -102
The Pittsburgh Pirates will collide with the Philadelphia Phillies as the clubs begin a three game series Friday evening from PNC Park. The Phillies will give the nod to 30-year old right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, and the Pirates will turn to 25-year old right-hander Trevor Williams. The Pirates won last year’s season series 4-3.
Hellickson Hunting for First Win of May
Jeremy Hellickson will make his ninth start of the season, aiming for his first win of the month. Hellickson allowed three runs, including two homers in five innings pitched to the Nationals five days ago, and finished with the no decision. The veteran right-hander is having a solid season, sporting a 3.71 ERA along with a terrific 1.10 WHIP and a 4-1 record in 43.2 innings logged. He has pitched well in his three career starts against the Pirates, conceding only six runs (five earned) in 16.1 innings. Andrew McCutchen is 1 for 5 against Hellickson, while Gregory Polanco is 2 for 9, and David Freese is 1 for 8. Aarron Altherr continues to produce, belting five home runs along with 11 RBI’s over his last eight games, and has now tallied 16 RBI’s this month. The 26-year old left fielder is now hitting .319 with eight homers and 22 RBI’s on the season. Altherr is 4 for 10 with one RBI in three games against the Pirates in his young career.
The Phillies are averaging 4.57 runs per game, ranking them near the middle at 17th overall, and own a .256 team batting average. The Philadelphia pitching has not been sharp, posting a weak 4.82 team ERA, positioning them 28th in the Majors.
Williams Rebounds with Strong Outing Over Diamondbacks
Trevor Williams will make his ninth appearance and third start of the season, aiming for his third win of the campaign. Williams was much better in his second start of the season five days ago, holding the Diamondbacks to one run in five innings, and picked up his second victory of the season. The rookie right-hander started the season in the bullpen and struggled, and has now conceded a total of 17 runs (14 earned) in 19.2 innings pitched on the season, resulting in a poor 6.41 ERA and a 2-2 record. The Pirates need Gregory Polanco to start driving in runs with more regularity to revive their struggling offense which ranks near the bottom in several offensive categories. The 25-year old left fielder accumulated 86 RBI’s last season, but has only tallied five RBI’s this month, and is now hitting .252 with just one home run and nine RBI’s on the season. Polanco went just 5 for 26 with three RBI’s in seven games against the Phillies last season.
The Pirates have not been scoring many runs, averaging only 3.70 runs per game, ranking them down at 27th overall, and are hitting .224 as a team. The Pittsburgh pitching is sporting a 4.16 team ERA, placing them 14th in the Major Leagues.
The Philadelphia Phillies are:
- 7-1 in Hellickson’s last 8 starts.
- 5-1 in Hellickson’s last 6 starts in the first game of a series.
- 9-2 in Hellickson’s last 11 starts on 4 days of rest.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are:
- 1-4 in their last 5 games in the first game of a series.
- 10-22 in their last 32 home games against a right-handed starter.
- 5-13 in their last 19 games against a starter with a WHIP of less than 1.15.
I am taking the Phillies in this contest. Hellickson has pitched well against the Pirates in his career, conceding only five earned runs in 16.1 innings, and the Pirates are only hitting a combined .167 against him. Furthermore, Trevor Williams has not looked good this season, conceding 17 runs (14 earned) in his 19.2 innings pitched, so the Phillies should be able to plate some runs. The Pirates have not been able to put it together offensively, while the Phillies bats have been the more consistent team this season, so I am more confident taking them in this one.