There are a few ways for a team to respond to getting swept in their first series out of the All-Star break, and one of those ways is to call up young reinforcements, which is exactly what the Pittsburgh Pirates did. Three new faces will be on the field for Pittsburgh tonight, starting with their top pitching prospect Quinn Priester, who will take on the Guardians in his debut. We’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing in this one.
The Pirates were not the only team in this matchup who was swept over the past weekend, as the Guardians came out of the break and immediately dropped three straight to the Texas Rangers. In two out of the three games, the Rangers' offense would prove to be too much for Cleveland to keep pace with. The series culminated yesterday with a 6-5 loss in which the Rangers put up a four spot in the 8th to take the lead and secure the sweep.
Xzavion Curry will be getting the start tonight for the Guardians. The right-hander has made 23 relief appearances this season for a total of 47.3 innings, and in that span, he has pitched to a 3.04 ERA with 32 strikeouts and ten walks. Curry threw an inning out of the bullpen on Saturday, so the length he’ll be on the mound tonight is undetermined.
Curry will square off with a Pirates lineup tonight that has scored four or fewer runs in nine of their last ten games. For that reason, their #3 and #7 overall prospects, Endy Rodriguez and Liover Peguero, will be joining the lineup tonight in the hopes of providing a spark to the lineup. Pittsburgh was swept yesterday in extra innings after their bullpen allowed five runs in the top of the 10th which was too much for their offense to overcome.
Since Peguero had a short stint with the team last season, it will just be a debut day for Rodriguez and tonight’s starter Quinn Preister. The young right-hander made 18 starts in Triple-A this season, putting up a 4.31 ERA and 3.85 FIP. With his 84 strikeouts across 87.2 innings of work, the righty had an 8.62 K/9 and will bring what could be an elite-level curveball to PNC Park.
Pittsburgh will enter tonight listed at (+105) on the moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. While Pittsburgh is set to get a boost to their lineup, the Guardians will be rolling out a starter who, despite having good numbers at the moment, he is sitting at the bottom of the league in terms of expected numbers. With two teams struggling with consistent offense, I’ll roll with the one getting a jolt of youth.
Xzavion Curry is sporting a 3.04 ERA, but his expected ERA is currently sitting at 5.02, which has him in the 18th percentile in xERA/xwOBA. On top of the rough expected ERA, Curry is also in the 6th percentile in expected batting average, 11th percentile in expected slugging percentage, and the 12th percentile in hard-hit percentage.
The benefit of Pittsburgh starting Preister tonight is he’s a new look for the Guardians lineup. While Cleveland is 12th in wRC+ on the road over the past month, they are facing an arm they have never seen before, and they have struggled to score early in games as of late, failing to go over their F5 team total in six of their last ten games.
Pittsburgh Pirates (+105)