The Pittsburgh Pirates (6-3) have to turn their attention quickly to the defending World Series champions, the Houston Astros (4-6).
The Pirates may have won their three-game series against the Chicago White Sox, but they paid a costly price during their 1-0 victory.
Pirates shortstop, Oneil Cruz fractured his ankle on a play at the plate; although there hasn’t been a timetable set for his return, it’s not looking good for the Pirates and their young superstar.
The good news is the Pirates pitching staff held a very potent White Sox lineup to no runs Sunday afternoon, so I guess you take the good with the bad.
First pitch at PNC Park is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. You can watch all the action on AT&T Sportsnet, or listen to it on the Pirates radio network, 93.7 The Fan.
The weather at first pitch is forecasted to be a bright sunny day with temperatures around 66 degrees. A slight wind of three mph will be blowing southwest.
The Pirates will send out RHP Roansy Contreras
Contreras looked phenomenal in his first outing of the season against the Boston Red Sox on April 4.
Contreras hurled 5.2 innings against the Red Sox and allowed just four baserunners the entire outing (three hits, one walk). Contreras did, however, only strike out two batters.
Contreras used his slider 49% of the time and had a really good average spin rate on it with 2622 RPMs and had eight balls put in play with an average exit velocity of 89.1 mph.
Contreras’ four-seam, averaged around 94.5 mph and had eight balls out of 24 fastballs put into play and averaged around 92.2 mph.
If Contreras continues to work off of his slider, I think he can find a lot more success than using his fastball as his primary weapon. His slider moves, and it moves well.
Contreras has never faced the Astros.
The Astros will send out, lefty, Frambler Valdez.
Valdez last started on April 4 against the Detroit Tigers, and he pitched quite a gem despite taking a loss in the process.
Valdez pitched seven strong innings while giving up just two earned runs, despite giving up eight hits. Valdez struck out nine Tigers and walked just one.
Valdez induced 16 swings and misses, with his slider getting the most with seven. His sinker (four), and curveball (five) weren’t far behind.
Valdez has faced the Pirates once and lasted just three innings while giving up six earned runs in a losing effort.
Interesting Batting Match Ups
Carlos Santana is 2-8 with two doubles and two walks against Valdez.
Contreras has never faced any of the current Astros.
- Bryan Reynolds now has a nine-game hitting streak which now leads the National League with the longest hitting streak, since Kris Bryant went 0-3 for Colorado. Bryant previously held a nine-game hitting streak.
- Andrew McCutchen has multiple hits in three consecutive games. McCutchen had this happen on one occasion last year from June 20- July 2
- Jose Hernandez has allowed just one hit in his first 11 batters faced. The only hit he has given up was against former Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman on April 1.
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