Currently sitting tied for second place in the NL Central with a 12-11 record are the Pittsburgh Pirates, the next obstacle for the Dodgers on a very quick three-game homestand.
The Pirates are amid a five-game losing streak, having just been swept by the Diamondbacks in a four-game series in Pittsburgh. During that series, Arizona convincingly outscored Pittsburgh 28-9.
As a team, the Pittsburgh offensive production has been abysmal. The Pirates’ 75 runs scored is second-worst in the National League, topping only the 68 of the Marlins. Collectively, the team is hitting just .228/.299/.363.
It’s certainly worth mentioning that Pittsburgh has a whopping seven players on the 10-day injured list with another three on the 60-day DL. Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson and Lonnie Chisenhall—a complete, starting outfield in itself—are all on the injured list, so it’s definitely easy to see why the team has been struggling with the bats.
Josh Bell is leading the team in just about every single offensive category. So far, the 26-year-old first baseman has tallied a .284 average alongside five long balls, 17 RBI and a .368 OBP.
If there’s any good news for the Pirates, it’s the return of right fielder Gregory Polanco, who is being eased back into a full-time role after having undergone shoulder surgery. Although he hasn’t been starting, Polanco has gone 4-for-12 so far in limited duties off the bench.
Pitching-wise, Pittsburgh has been decent, registering a 3.36 team ERA, five spots better than the Dodgers and good enough for third-best in the National League.
The starting pitching crew has amassed a 2.69 ERA for the Pirates, far and away the best mark in the National League. Coincidentally, the Dodgers’ starters have compiled a 3.82 ERA, which is good enough for sixth on the senior circuit.
With 37 runs allowed and a 4.60 ERA, the Pittsburgh bullpen is ranked 10th in the NL.
The full weekend schedule is as follows:
The good news for the Dodgers is that the entire trio of Pittsburgh starters is right-handed, so Los Angeles fans can expect a heavy dose of Alex Verdugo, Joc Pederson and Max Muncy to accompany an already formidable left-handed hitting duo in Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager.
Bellinger is leading the world with a .426 batting average and is tied with Christian Yelich for the league-lead with 31 RBI. Bellinger’s 12 long balls are second only to Yelich’s 13.
Offensively, the Dodgers have a huge advantage and should cruise in this series so long as they can stick to their game plan at the plate. If anything will keep the Pirates hanging around, it’s their starting pitching. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles offense has been the most prolific offense in the NL, at least when it comes to run production.
At the moment, despite their 12 wins, the Pirates are probably among the worst clubs in the National League—especially after being swept four games by the Diamondbacks in Pittsburgh—but that can certainly change at some point in the season if they ever become close to being fully healthy.