An interesting twist to the Pirates’ three-game weekday home series against the Miami Marlins is that they not only faced the Fish a week and a half ago, the two teams are using the same three starting pitchers they sent to the mound in Miami.
The hitters see the same sequence of pitchers: righties Henderson Alvarez, Tom Koehler and Jose Fernandez for the Marlins; LHP Jeff Locke, RHP Charlie Morton and RHP Gerrit Cole for the Pirates. The pitchers face the hitters for the 4th, 5th and 6th time in the span of 10 days.
As Yogi Berra so eloquently put it, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Same love.
“What we’ve got now is actual in-game experience,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “You watch video, you see guys pitch. Now we’ve put our cleats in the box and faced these guys and found out they’ve got some skills… Our guys will have a comfort zone we didn’t have the first time seeing them.”
The result of the first series was the Marlins took two of three games as starters Henderson Alvarez (tonight’s starter) and Jose Fernandez “shut down” the Pirates. But the run differential was even: 9-9.
“Any time as a hitter or as a player you rise to the occasion against better teams, that’s seems to be when you want to step up,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “You kind of know the moving parts of the moves they’re gonna make, and in certain situations they know what we’re gonna do.”
The Pitcher’s Mindset
Charlie Morton, Wednesday’s starter, acknowledges that familiarity runs both ways. Though he thinks a rematch gives the advantage to the hitters making an adjustment to him, he does not have to start from scratch in planning to attack a batter.
“Obviously you can get a sense of what their approach is more than just looking at video of them facing some other guy,” Morton said. “You can usually look at the video of yourself pitching out there and see them in the box, see what you did wrong.”
Morton was not his sharpest against the young and previously unfamiliar Marlins: allowing nine hits and three earned runs over five innings in Miami. He was facing many of those hitters for the first time. Many were rookies that he could only watch minor league videos to prepare for them.
“It’s good because we have more recent feedback,” Morton said. “We’re able to analyze the situation a little bit more accurately the further you get from where we are now or the more that the information could have changed.”
For more on how Morton’s adjustments for this unique matchup on Wednesday, listen to the sound below or download it for your own purposes.
- Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton hit his 100th career home run against the Pirates on July 28. According to Marlins PR, he tied for the 8th-fastest hitter to reach 100 homers in terms of games played, a record held by Ryan Howard getting there in 325 games.
- Hurdle on Tuesday starter Jeff Locke, who had a July ERA of 3.38 after owning a 2.06 ERA over the first three months: “I don’t find that shocking, because he had a really good first half. The league’s gotten to know him better. You can gameplan against him differently.”
- Hurdle compared the Closer Mentality of Mark Melancon™ to that of Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. “They never beat their chests. They had some pretty good music to come to. That’s where it stopped, and that’s when the pitching started. It’s pretty much the same way with Melancon. As exciting as you’re gonna get is the walk-in song, then it’s just business as usual.” It’s a good closer song too: Thunderstruck by AC/DC.
- Hurdle knows it is Shark Week, as KDKA’s Bob Pompeani put forward the comparison to his Shark Tank bullpen. “It was brought to my attention by my daughter yesterday.”