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Pirates Preview: Velasquez, Bucs Aim to Avoid Sweep



Pittsburgh Pirates- Vince Velasquez

The Pittsburgh Pirates (20-11) have now lost three in a row after their defense failed them in game two; the offense didn’t show up in an 8-1 loss Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays (25-6).

A couple of costly errors cost the Pirates against the A.L. leading Rays in game two, and yet again, the Pirates were hitless at the plate with runners in scoring position, going 0-7 with runners in scoring position.

Mitch Keller suffered his first loss of the season, despite only giving up one earned run (five runs total), and striking out eight. The Pirates will try and avoid the sweep Thursday afternoon.

First pitch in Tampa is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. You can watch all of the action on AT&T Sportsnet, or listen to the game on the Pirates radio network, 93.7 The Fan.


N/A, Tropicana Field is a dome.

The Pirates will send out RHP Vince Velasquez (4-2, 3.06 ERA)

Velasquez has now gone 18 straight innings without giving up a run and has won four games in a row after an atrocious start to his Pirates tenure.

The last time Velasquez gave up a run was in Colorado in the first inning, where he gave up three earned runs.

In his last start, Velasquez pitched six innings and gave up five hits, no earned runs, no walks, and struck out five Washington Nationals.

The righty used his slider the majority of the time against the Nationals with a 50% usage, and the slider has become a major weapon for Velasquez.

On April 23 against Cincinnati, Velasquez used the slider 49% of the time, and then on April 18 against the Rockies, he used it 42% of the time. In each of those starts, the slider was the main pitch in terms of usage.

As a result, Velasquez has a 32.1% whiff rate, an 83.3 mph average EV, and an opposing average of .172 on the slider.

Velasquez has faced the Rays three times (three starts) and has a record of 0-1 with an ERA of 4.02.

The Rays will send out RHP Zach Eflin (3-0, 3.00 ERA).

In his four starts on the year, Eflin has gone at least five innings in every start and has given up a maximum of three earned runs overall.

In his last start, the righty went five innings and gave up six hits, two earned runs, walked two, and struck out five Detroit Tigers. Both of the runs given up were solo shots.

Eflin will mainly use three pitches with a sinker (33.7%), cutter (30.6%), and a curveball (25.9%). In addition, Eflin has thrown the occasional changeup (5.1%), slider (3%), and four-seam (1.7%).

Eflin’s main swing-and-miss pitch is his curveball, with a whiff rate of 39.5%. The Pirates do have a shot with his sinker/cutter combo, with his sinker giving up an opposing average of .250 and his cutter giving up a .261 average.

Eflin has faced the Pirates twice (two starts) and holds a record of 1-1 with an ERA of 2.08.

Interesting Batting Match Ups

Rays Hitters

  • Randy Arozarena: 4-6 with two doubles against Velasquez
  • Harold Ramirez: 2-6 with a homer and a walk against Velasquez

Pirates Hitters

  • Austin Hedges: 2-2 with a homer against Eflin
  • Andrew McCutchen: 1-6 with a walk and two strikeouts against Eflin


  • With McCutchen’s homer on Wednesday, he is now seven away from 300 for his career. In addition, McCutchen has hit 209 with the Pirates organization.
  • With Velasquez’s 3.06 ERA, he is currently ranked 12th in the National League for ERA. The next closest Pirate is Mitch Keller at number 16, with a 3.32 ERA.
  • With his eight strikeouts on Wednesday, Keller finds himself tied for third in the National League with 48 total strikeouts. Keller is tied with Logan Webb of the Giants and is nine away from Spencer Strider and Zac Gallen


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