The Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday evening in game two of their three-game series. It is also game two of a doubleheader that was necessitated by a snow-out on Tuesday. The Pirates are coming off a series win over the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, winning the series finale on Sunday by a score of 6-5 in 10 innings. The Tigers were swept by the Oakland A's in a four-game series, losing 3-2 on Sunday. Both teams had a scheduled off-day on Monday before their unscheduled day off on Tuesday.
Pirates look to continue improved playThe Pittsburgh Pirates, who had the worst record in the Major Leagues a year ago, started the 2021 season right where they left off, as they lost their first two series and six of their first seven games of this season. However, they are 2-0-1 in their last three series', winning six of their last nine games in the process. With a sweep of the Tigers in the doubleheader on Wednesday, the Pirates will get back to .500 for the first time since the second game of the season. Pittsburgh has been playing nearly all season without their Rookie of the Year candidate, third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes, who has been out of the lineup since the second game of the season with a wrist injury. He was scheduled to play a game with the Pirates' alternate site team on Tuesday and could be activated as soon as Wednesday.
“Assuming he gets through that OK, hopefully, he’s not too long away from being activated,” GM Ben Cherington said on mlb.com.
His return will help a power-starved lineup that is fourth-worst in the Major Leagues in home runs with 14. The Pirates are in the top half of the Majors in batting average, as they are ranked 14th with a .235 team average. Pittsburgh has three players who are batting .298 or higher. Bryan Reynolds leads with a .317 batting average, followed by Adam Frazier at .305 and Colin Moran at .298. Moran has been their top power threat with a team-leading four home runs and 13 RBI this season. The Pirates pitching staff has a 4.92 ERA, however, their bullpen has been much better than their starters have been. Their relievers have a 3.97 ERA in 68 innings pitched.
Mitch Keller takes the mound in game two for the Pirates. The third-year pitcher has regressed from his excellent 2020 season. Keller had a 2.91 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched last season, but in three starts this season, he is 1-2 with an 8.74 ERA and a 2.12 WHIP. In his last start, Keller gave up seven earned runs and nine hits in 3.1 innings versus San Diego. He has faced the Tigers once in his career, giving up two earned runs in five innings for a 3.60 ERA.
Tigers look to break losing streakThe Detroit Tigers, who won six of their first 12 games of the season, ran into the hottest team in baseball over the weekend, as they lost four straight games to the Oakland A's by a combined 21-6 score. They were shut out twice in the four games. This is their second four-game losing streak of the season. The Tigers are batting just .212 as a team this season, as they are led by Jeimer Candelario's .295 batting average. Detroit has hit 20 home runs this season. Wilson Ramos is tied for second in the Majors with six home runs, while Akil Baddoo leads the team with 11 RBI and is second on the team with four home runs. The Tigers pitchers have a 5.13 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. Miguel Cabrera, who hasn't played since April 10, is on the IL and is still at least a few days away from returning.
Spencer Turnbull, who has a 7-23 career record, makes his first start since September 25. He was 4-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 11 starts last season, but he has been on the COVID-19 injured list since the beginning of the season.
“Perspective is everything,” Turnbull said about his illness on mlive.com. “So you can look at something like, ‘Woe is me, I can’t believe this happened. This sucks. Blah, blah, blah.’ Or you can just look at it like, ‘Well, you know, it sucks, but I’m going be all right. I’ll be back soon.’ I could have had it way worse.”
He will be piggybacked by Tarik Skubal, as Turnbull is not yet built up to go five or six innings. Skubal is 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA this season. Turnbull has started two games against the Pirates in his career, going 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings pitched.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Pittsburgh Pirates have played much better baseball over the last week-and-a-half, as they have won six out of their last nine games. Detroit, on the other hand, has lost four straight games by an average of 5.3-1.5, with two shutouts. Detroit is starting a pitcher who hasn't pitched in nearly seven months, and without Turnbull being stretched out, he will not pitch long into the game. Skubal, who will follow Turnbull, has not pitched well this season, as he has an ERA above 6.00 this season. The Pirates' offense has hit the ball much better recently, as they have scored at least five runs in six of their last nine games. If Hayes is able to come back for Wednesday's game two, Pittsburgh's offense will be that much better. The Tigers are near the bottom of the Major Leagues in most offensive categories this season. Look for the Pirates to take game two of the doubleheader on Wednesday evening.
Full-Game Total Pick
The Pirates starter, Keller, has been awful this season, with an ERA near 9.00 this season, while the Tigers are starting a pitcher who hasn't started all season. Look for Turnbull to be a little rusty in his season debut. Detroit's piggyback pitcher has an ERA of over 6.00 this season. The Pirates are averaging 5.8 runs per game in their last nine games. The last 10 games between these two teams have averaged 12.1 runs per game over the last few seasons, while the over-under is 6-3-1 in those 10 games. Look for another high-scoring game between these two teams on Wednesday evening.