As we start the first full week of August, there are at least seven teams still in the National League wild-card hunt. Two of them will open up a series at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
After winning 11 in a row, Pittsburgh has leveled and had a mildly disappointing homestand. The Pirates now hit the road for a nine-game road trip starting in Coors Field, with the Bucs 26-24 (+1.7 units) away from the Steel City.
The Rockies return home from an ugly road trip, in which they took a lead at least into the eighth inning and ended up losing the game three times. Colorado will look to turn this around at home where they are 27-24 (-5.3).
The early MLB odds have Colorado as a home favorite (-142) and when the Rocks have been favored this season anywhere, they are merely 33-29 (-5.6).
The announced starting pitchers for Monday are Joe Musgrove (4-5, 3.63 ERA) for the Pirates and Kyle Freeland (9-7, 3.20) for the Rocks.
Musgrove came over from Houston in the Gerrit Cole trade and despite his 6’5, 260-pound frame, he’s a ground ball pitcher, not a flamethrower. Musgrove has 54 punch-outs in 67 innings or work and Pittsburgh is 5-2 when he has more groundball outs than fly-ball outs, compared to 1-3 when the numbers are reserved.
Like his mound counterpart, Freeland is 25 and the left-hander has really come into own in 2018. Freeland is one of those rare Rockies hurlers who has a lower ERA at home compared to on the road (2.75 vs. 3.74). He also dominated hitters in the left side of the batter’s box, holding them to a .209 average and has only surrendered six extra base hits, facing 115 batters.