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New York Yankees vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Series Preview

Tonight, the Yankees begin a quick, two-day Pitt stop on the road from Cleveland to Boston.

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Yankees have started their long road trip losing their one-game makeup against the Houston Astros and taking two of three in Cleveland against the Guardians. After their first scheduled off day since the 13th of June, they return to action today with their first set of road interleague games this season, as they head to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates (and thankfully, the DH is here for good now).

The Pirates have been, to nobody’s surprise, one of the worst teams in the National League, ranking dead last in the NL in runs per game (3.68) and 11th in runs allowed per game (5.15). Not surprisingly, that combination gives them a 32-47 record that puts them in fourth place in the NL Central. And in many ways, they have been exceeding expectations, as their run differential-based Pythagorean record (28-51) and Base Runs record (29-50) are even worse than their actual performance.

Needless to say, these are two games that the Yankees need to win. Let’s check in on the pitching matchups:

Tuesday: Jameson Taillon vs. José Quintana (7:05 pm ET)

Jameson Taillon looks to bounce back from a pair of rough outings since his 5.2 shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays back on June 18th, as the Houston Astros tagged him for six runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings on the 23rd, while the Oakland Athletics put up three runs on seven hits in five innings on the 29th. Thanks to these two starts, plus the incredible depth of the AL pitching field, the right-hander is probably on the outside looking in for the All-Star Game, but a strong showing tonight against a weak Pirates lineup might help his case when replacement All-Stars are inevitably needed.

Going up against him will be José Quintana. After a rough season with the Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants, Quintana has rebounded nicely with the Pirates, posting a 3.43 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 15 starts so far this season. Over his last two outings, he’s been particularly effective, going six innings despite not reaching 100 pitches in each — he has allowed just three runs on 10 hits in that span, striking out 12 and walking just three.

Wednesday: Luis Severino vs. TBA (7:05 pm ET)

Luis Severino earned the loss in each of his last two starts, but that was through no fault of his own. Facing the Astros both times, Sevy went six innings in each outing and allowed just five runs on eight hits, striking out 11 and walking four. The vaunted Houston lineup struggled to get anything going consistently against the Yankees right-hander, as he limited them to just a .186/.255/.349 slash line. Unfortunately for him, the Yankees managed to scratch across just one run in each outing, leaving him the hard-luck loser.

At the time of writing, the Pirates had not yet announced a starter for Wednesday’s game. Based on the way their rotation has shaken out of late, the betting favorite would be Mitch Keller. By every account, this ought to be a fairly enticing matchup for the Yankees: Keller has a 5.14 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) and a career 5.77 ERA, and in his last outing he gave up five runs on nine hits in four innings to the largely-inept Nationals offense. Prior to that outing, however, Keller appeared to be getting into a rhythm, as in his seven appearances (five starts) between May 18th and June 24th he posted a 2.97 ERA (3.39 FIP) and had kept opposing batters to a .654 OPS. While he’s far from an ace, he’s shown that he’s just as likely to lock down an opposing lineup as he is to turn the game into a hit parade.