Philadelphia Phillies (14-24; 23-15 O/U) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (18-23; 18-21-2 O/U)
MLB: Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 4:05pm EST
Line: Pittsburgh -130/Philadelphia +120
The Pittsburgh Pirates will take on the Philadelphia Phillies as the clubs continue a three game series Saturday afternoon from PNC Park. The Phillies will give the call to 24-year old right-hander Vincent Velasquez, and the Pirates will turn to 30-year old right-hander Ivan Nova. The Pirates went 4-3 against the Phillies last season.
Velasquez Aims for First Quality Start of the Month
Vincent Velasquez will get the call for the eighth time of the season, looking to improve his record to 3-3. Velasquez allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings pitched to the Nationals in his previous start, finishing with the no decision. The hard-throwing right-hander has allowed three or fewer runs in four out of his last five starts, but has not been going deep into the game, and as a result he is sporting a poor 5.63 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in 38.1 innings pitched. He has only made one start in his career against the Pirates which came last season and allowed four runs in six innings. Cesar Hernandez continue to hit for average, however he has still yet to record an RBI in the month of May, last driving in a run on April 23rd. The 26-year old second baseman is now hitting a solid .299 on the season, but has recorded only 10 RBI’s with four homers on the season. Hernandez hit .296 with three home runs and five RBIs against the Pirates pitching last season.
The Phillies are now averaging 4.55 runs per game, ranking them 17th in the Majors, and are hitting .256 as a team. The Philadelphia pitching is struggling, posting a 4.92 team ERA, positioning them down at 29th in the Major Leagues.
Nova Seeking Eighth Quality Start of Season
Ivan Nova will take the mound for the ninth time of the campaign, searching for his first win of the month. Nova conceded three runs including two homers in six innings pitched to the Diamondbacks in his latest start, finishing with another no decision. The 6-foot-5 right-hander is having an outstanding season, sporting a 2.48 ERA and a dazzling 1.03 WHIP to go with a 3-3 record in 54.1 innings of work. Nova has shut down the Phillies in his two career starts, allowing only two runs in 12 innings. Freddy Galvis is 1 for 4 against Nova, while Maikel Franco is 0 for 6, and Michael Saunders is 3 for 9 with one RBI. Josh Bell is swinging a red hot bat for the Pirates, belting four homers with nine RBIs over his last six games. The 24-year old first baseman has been one of the few bright spots offensively, hitting .248 with a team-leading nine home runs and 18 RBIs. Bell went 4 for 13 with two RBIs in four games against the Phillies last season.
The Pirates bats are heating up, however they are still only averaging 3.85 runs per game, ranking them 27th in the Majors, and own a .228 team batting average. The Pittsburgh pitching has been solid, sporting a 4.11 team ERA, placing them 13th in the Majors.
The Philadelphia Phillies are:
- 3-13 in Velasquez’s last 16 starts.
- 7-19 in their last 26 games in Pittsburgh.
- 3-15 in their last 18 games overall.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are:
- 5-1 in their last 6 home games against a team with a road winning percentage below .400.
- 5-1 in their last 6 Saturday games.
- 15-6 in their 21 games against the Phillies.
I am definitely taking the Pirates in this contest. Nova is an outstanding pitcher and he is dominate at home, sporting a stifling 1.89 ERA in his three home starts, plus he’s held the Phillies to only two runs in his 12 innings against them. Furthermore, the Pirates bats are heating up, averaging six runs per game over their last five games, and Velasquez has had issues with his control, and he will give up homers, so I expect the Pirates to generate some runs and take this one at home.