National League Wild Card Preview
By Jared Peterman
PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, hosts the second straight NL one game wild card game. This year the Pirates will face off with the San Francisco Giants, with the winner taking on the Washington Nationals in the NLDS. The Giants send ace starting pitcher, Madison Bumgarner to the bump, while Pirates fans will watch Edison Volquez try to hurl Pittsburgh to their second straight postseason series.
Volquez, acquired via free agency in the offseason, has been the Pirates’ newest reclamation project as he sported a 5.71ERA in 2013, almost cutting that number in half during this season as he enters the game with a 3.04ERA. To add to Volquez’s success, he’s currently riding a hot streak throughout the month of September with a 2-0 record and a 1.08ERA through 33.1IP. Squaring off against Volquez, is no slouch either, as Bumgarner has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball over the past three seasons. Bumgarner has never had an ERA over 3.40 while throwing 200+ IP in each season. The southpaw will look to continue his success to push the Giants into the NLDS.
Pittsburgh’s offense is led by superstar sensation, Andrew McCutchen, but will need production from SS Jordy Mercer, who hits in front of McCutchen tonight. Mercer has crushed lefties all season and the Pirates will need him to do so tonight to create run production opportunities for McCutchen and the heart of the order. San Francisco’s offense is led by postseason heroes from the past as Buster Posey and Hunter Pence look to continue the success they have seen in previous high pressured playoff games. 2B Joe Panik makes his postseason debut, hitting second, ahead of Posey, where similar to Mercer, he must find a way to get on base.
The Pirates have the experience in the wild card format, where the Giants have the postseason experience. The Pittsburgh atmosphere should play a factor, but I can’t pick against Bumgarner. I’m expecting a very intriguing game as I pick the Giants defeat the Pirates, 5-2.