PITTSBURGH PIRATES (95-69)
at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (98-65)
National League Division Series Game 2 - Cardinals lead series 1-0
First pitch: Friday, 1:05 p.m. ET
Line: St. Louis -135, Pittsburgh +125, Total: 7
The Pirates will look to avoid falling into a 2-0 NLDS hole Friday afternoon when they continue their series against the Cardinals.
St. Louis tattooed A.J. Burnett for seven earned runs with 10 base-runners in the first two innings in Thursday's Game 1, and rolled to a 9-1 victory. The man charged with turning things around is 23-year-old Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole (10-7, 3.22 ERA), a rookie who showed why he has had so much hype surrounding him for years. Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA) will face Cole, coming off his best stretch of the season in which he gave up a total of three earned runs over his past four starts. Though Thursday nightís loss for the Pirates was discouraging, they are 38-18 (.679) after scoring two runs or less this year. The season series between these two clubs is now tied at 10-10, with St. Louis owning a 7-3 advantage at Busch Stadium, where it is an impressive 55-27 (.671, 2nd in majors). Pittsburgh is an excellent 44-38 (.537, 5th in majors) on the road.
Cole (1.17 WHIP) is already living up to the pressure of being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2011 MLB draft. The young right-hander fanned 100 batters in 117.1 innings over 19 starts while walking 28 and giving up seven home runs. Each of his five starts in the month of September was a quality start while he posted a 4-0 record, 1.69 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .212 opponents' BA and 39 strikeouts in 32 innings. He has never faced the Cardinals, but it is worth noting how much better he was on the road with a 2.38 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in seven starts, during which the Pirates were 5-2. It could be important that Cole go long in this one, given Burnettís brief outing Thursday, but the Pirates bullpen has been outstanding all year long with a 30-20 record, 2.86 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 55 saves in 70 chances (79% success rate).
Lynn (1.31 WHIP) doesnít have the same high potential as Cole but has been a reliable workhorse, logging 201.2 innings while striking out 198 and walking 76. The Cardinals were 19-14 in his 33 starts, and like Cole, Lynn closed his season with a huge September, posting a 2.12 ERA with 36 K's in 29.2 innings (10.9 K/9) in the seasonís final month. He has struggled against the Pirates though, despite a 4-2 (team 6-3) record in nine career starts. In those outings he has a 5.19 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, while in the past two starts, both in August, he gave up 18 hits and 11 earned runs in 9.1 innings. His biggest nemesis has been OF Sterling Marte, who is 6-for-13 with a 1.332 OPS off Lynn in his career, but OF Andrew McCutchen (4-for-26, 10 K's) has really struggled against him. Lynn has also been subpar in his postseason career, going 3-2 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 22 innings spanning 16 games (2 starts, 14 relief appearances). In his two starts during last year's NLCS, Lynn was rocked for eight runs (4 ER) and 13 base-runners (nine hits, four walks) in just 7.1 innings of work. The good news for Lynn is that if he does falter again, the well-rested St. Louis bullpen should be able to pick up the slack. Cardinals relievers have recorded a strong 3.43 ERA and 1.24 WHIP this year.