The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t had a good start to the month of June. And the road ahead doesn’t get much easier.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (32-33) haven’t exactly taken the baseball world by storm in the first 10 days of June. The Bucs have played nine games in that span against the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs, losing six of those games.
Pittsburgh now sits in fourth place, seven games behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central race.
Things won’t get easier for the Bucs who travel to the west coast tonight to begin a three game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks (35-29). The Diamondbacks have won seven of their last 10 games and are 19-13 at home this season.
Following the series with the top team in the NL West, the Pirates return home for a 10 game home stand, beginning this weekend with a three game series against the Cincinnati Reds (23-43).
Despite Cincinnati’s overall record, these two series’ provide plenty of challenges for this struggling Pirates team. They will also include plenty of intriguing matchups to keep an eye on. Here are a few to watch out for.
Gregory Polanco vs. Patrick corbin
During the upcoming three game series, the Pirates are faced with the challenge of going head-to-head with a trio of quality pitchers.
One of those hurlers is left-hander Patrick Corbin, who is 6-2 with a 2.87 ERA and 0.94 WHIP this season. Corbin also ranks in the top five in the NL with 105 strikeouts in 81.2 innings.
The 28-year-old is having his best season since 2013 when he was a National League all-star and comes into this matchup with the Pirates following a solid outing against the San Francisco Giants.
Having momentum coming into this start is a good thing for Corbin, who is 1-2 with a 5.32 ERA in four career starts against the Bucs.
Current Pirates players hold a collective .298 batting average against Corbin while Gregory Polanco has had the most success against him. In his career, Polanco is hitting .500 (4 for 8) with a double, a home run and three RBIs against the lefty.
This is one of the first matchups to look out for as Corbin takes the hill tonight. Polanco has had a long list of struggles this season, but he still continues to get playing time despite the fact that he’s hitting .136 over his last 15 games.
Despite the struggles, this matchup could favor the right fielder considering his short sample size of success against Corbin.
However, Polanco is hitting just .154 against left handed pitching this season and Corbin isn’t exactly a pitcher that has been struggling to get the job done. So, given the fact that Corbin has been so dominant, this could very well be a more favorable matchup for the Diamondbacks’ southpaw.
Corey dickerson vs. zack greinke
During this series with the Diamondbacks, left fielder Corey Dickerson might come face to face with his kryptonite.
Dickerson, who is hitting .319 and is among the NL’s best hitters, hasn’t had much success over the course of his career against veteran right hander Zack Greinke.
In his career against the 34-year-old hurler, Dickerson is hitting .150 (3 for 20) with an RBI, four walks and three strikeouts. All three of Dickerson’s hits against Greinke occurred in 2014 when he was a member of the Colorado Rockies.
Dickerson will face Greinke for the first time since 2016 in game three of this series, and its a matchup worth keeping an eye on.
Greinke has been so-so for the D-Backs this season while Dickerson has arguably been the most legitimate threat in the Pirates lineup.
Dickerson is a more experienced hitter than he was the last time these two faced off and his recent play indicates that he could have success against the right hander Wednesday, ending his longlasting struggles against him. But on the other hand, history could very well repeat itself with Greinke continuing his dominance against the talented outfielder.
Josh Harrison vs. matt harvey
Matt Harvey hasn’t exactly pitched like an ace during his time with the Cincinnati Reds.
The former Met is 1-2 with a 5.04 ERA in six starts with the Reds while allowing seven home runs in 30.1 innings.
Between the Mets and the Reds, Harvey is 1-4 with a 5.97 ERA in 14 appearances – 10 starts – this season. In total, the righty has surrendered 13 home runs in 57.1 innings and ranks tied for third in the NL in most long balls allowed.
Despite his lack of quality outings this year, Harvey’s best as a Red occurred May 22 against the Pirates. Harvey went six innings, allowing one run on three hits while walking two and striking out five.
Harvey will get another shot at the Bucs in the opener of this weekend’s series at PNC Park.
He has had good success against members of the Pirates current roster, holding them to a .233 batting average over the course of his career.
Josh Harrison has had the most success against Harvey in his career, hitting .455 (5 for 11) with a double and two RBIs.
Harvey did hold Harrison to an 0 for 3 effort last month, which makes this matchup that more intriguing.
Will Harrison, who is hitting .429 over the last seven days, continue his overall success against Harvey or will the Reds’ hurler continue where he left off against the Bucs last month?
This matchup seems to lean more in Harrison’s favor. Harvey isn’t the same pitcher he once was while Harrison has been a big catalyst for the Bucs over the last several games, despite their recent woes. Look for Harrison to have a big day against a familiar foe if he’s in the lineup for manager Clint Hurdle.