On Friday the Phillies will take on the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first time in this 2016 campaign. Friday’s game will be the first of a nine-game road trip.
Since the All-Star break, the Phillies have floundered to a 2-5 record which is surprising given their winning ways, winning seven out of 10 games, just prior to the mid-summer classic.
Game one (7:05 PM, Fri) will feature Zach Eflin (2-3, 4.14 ERA) vs. Pirates ace Gerrit Cole (5-5, 3.11 ERA). Eflin will be looking to continue his recent success, as he has posted a 2-1 record and a 2.57 ERA over his last three outings. Eflin has a 5.66 ERA in four road outings this season. Cole, a right-hander, has a 3-1 record along with a 2.31 ERA in four career starts against the Phils. Cole was selected as the 1st overall draft pick by the Pirates back in 2011.
In game two, Aaron Nola (5-8, 4.41 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound Saturday at 4:05 PM. It is still yet to be seen if Nola has officially recovered from a dismal stretch that saw him post a 13.50 ERA over five starts from June 11th through July 2nd. His two-hits/no-runs performance in his last outing has led many to believe that he is on the right track. Nola’s “stuff” has improved but he will be tested by a Pirates lineup that averages nearly five runs per game at home. The Pirates will go with rookie right-hander Chad Kuhl on the mound. The Delaware native has posted a 1-0 record along with a 4.19 ERA and .260 batting average against through four big league starts.
Vincent Velasquez (8-2, 3.15 ERA) and Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.44 ERA) will square off in the rubber match Sunday afternoon at 1:35 PM. Velasquez was solid in has last game on the 19th against the Marlins where he went seven innings allowing one run despite allowing four walks. He would tally up five punch-outs in that game. The right-handed Velasquez has a 4.74 ERA in eight road starts this season. Taillon, who was drafted by the Pirates with the 2nd overall pick in 2010, sports a 2-1 record with a 3.44 ERA in six starts this season.
Pirates OF Starling Marte enters this series on a tear, batting .286 with three extra base hits (one home run, two doubles) in his past five games.
For the Phillies, first baseman Tommy Joseph leads the bats into battle. He has brought some pop to the lineup, homering twice and batting .286 since the All-Star break. The remainder of the lineup has struggled since coming back from the break batting .167 during that stretch. Hopefully, a good first series on the road can change their fortunes.
Phillies team ERA since the All-Star break- 3.55.
Pirates team ERA since the All-Star break- 3.54.
PN’s Jay Floyd contributed to this article.