Pirates to Ruin Andrew McCutchen’s Homecoming on Saturday

Matthew Jordan

Friday, May 11, 2018 1:39 PM UTC

Friday, May. 11, 2018 1:39 PM UTC

Former Pirate Andrew McCutchen will overshadow the San Francisco Giants’ entire weekend series in Pittsburgh. Game 2 of the set is Saturday night (7:05 ET).

San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh PiratesFree MLB Pick: PiratesBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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The San Francisco Giants could be running on fumes Saturday in Game 2 of their three-game set in Pittsburgh with a first pitch of 7:05 p.m. ET at awesome PNC Park. Why? It’s the Giants’ ninth straight game without a day off and all on the road.

Clearly the story line for this entire series is former Pirate Andrew McCutchen, one of the best players in recent franchise history and a huge fan favorite, returning to Pittsburgh. The 2013 NL MVP was traded this past January to the Giants for young pitcher Kyle Crick, minor-league outfielder Bryan Reynolds, $500,000 in international signing bonus allocation and some cash to cover McCutchen’s $14.75 million salary this season.

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Pittsburgh.My Home.My Fans.My City. The placed that raised me and helped mold me into the man I am today. You will 4ever be in my heart.A tip of the cap to all who have been on this journey with me. With Love and respect,
Cutch pic.twitter.com/QB0n9vuBuZ

— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) January 15, 2018
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Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington didn’t really get much in exchange for McCutchen but was boxed into a corner because McCutchen doesn’t play at an MVP level these days but still would have been too expensive for the Pirates to re-sign as a free agent next winter. It’s essentially the same reason Huntington had to trade Gerrit Cole – the AL Cy Young leader right now – to Houston this past winter as well. McCutchen has been just meh so far for the Giants but hitting better of late. Crick has been a so-so reliever for Pittsburgh. Reynolds is ranked as Pittsburgh’s No. 6 overall prospect.

That the Giants are around .500 is a minor miracle considering how many injuries they have dealt with. Ace Madison Bumgarner has yet to pitch this season but should be back in early June. No. 2 starter Johnny Cueto recently landed on the 60-day disabled list with an elbow problem that won’t require Tommy John surgery – for now. Closer Mark Melancon hasn’t pitched this year and might not. Outfielders Hunter Pence and Mac Williamson have both been on the DL for a while. Second baseman Joe Panik is too.

Despite losing Cole and McCutchen, the Pirates are contending in the NL Central, although I doubt that continues much longer. They enter having won five of their past six series – the one loss was a four-game sweep in Washington. Pittsburgh visits San Francisco from Aug. 9-12.

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I’m baaaaack

— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) May 11, 2018
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Probable Pitchers: Samardzija vs. Kuhl

Speaking of Giants injuries, No. 3 starter Jeff Samardzija started the season on the DL along with Bumgarner, and “Shark” has been pretty lousy in his four starts in going 1-2 with a 6.62 ERA. The big right-hander hasn’t gone longer than five innings yet. He lasted four Monday in Philadelphia, allowing five runs in taking the loss. His WHIP is an ugly 1.81 thanks in large part to 13 walks in 17.2 innings (along with 19 hits). He led the majors with a 1.4 BB/9 rate last year. One thing Samardzija used to do at a minimum was eat innings – he always has given up a lot of hits.

In his career vs. the Pirates, Samardzija is 6-4 with a 2.80 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 106.0 innings; the former Cub has pitched more innings against Pittsburgh than any other team. Starling Marte has seen him more than any Pirate, going 8-for-31 with 10 strikeouts. Gregory Polanco is 4-for-14 with a homer. Jordy Mercer is just 2-for-19, although one hit was a homer.

It’s Chad Kuhl (4-2, 4.12) for Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old comes off arguably the best start of his career, allowing one hit over seven innings with eight strikeouts in Milwaukee. Kuhl claimed a reliance on off-speed pitches was the difference; he had thrown 40 combined change-ups in his first six starts and had 17 against Milwaukee. Or maybe he just likes Miller Park as he now has a 1.84 ERA in four career starts there.

Kuhl’s lone career start vs. the Giants was at home last July 1 and he allowed one run and two hits over six innings in a no-decision. The only current Giant with a hit off him is Gregor Blanco, who is 1-for-2 with a double. Buster Posey and Brandon Belt are both 0-for-2.

  • Giants are 5-16 in Samardzija’s last 21 starts during game 2 of a series.
  • Giants are 1-5 in Samardzija’s last 6 road starts vs. a team with a winning record.
  • Pirates are 8-2 in Kuhl’s last 10 home starts.

Other than the Milwaukee start, Kuhl has been much better at home this year with a 2-0 record and 3.18 ERA in three starts. Samardzija isn’t this bad but keep betting against him until he figures it out. Take the Pirates for a Saturday MLB pick.

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