It might be one for the bullpens to decide in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
When the Pirates host the Milwaukee Brewers, they’ll send Tyler Glasnow to the mound. Glasnow is averaging just a hair over four innings per start on the season and is 1-1 with a 6.97 ERA.
His mound opponent will be Zach Davies, who has had similar issues in 2017. Davies averages just shy of five innings per start and sports a 2-2 record with a 6.07 ERA.
Glasnow, 23, has been working through a multitude of issues in his first full season as a starter, but the inability to go deep into games is the one that has held him back the most. He made some strides in that regard during his last start against the Cincinnati Reds on May 2, when he went six innings for the first time in his career and earned his first major league win.
“I need to get deeper into games,” Glasnow said. “I’ve just been out of whack for a while. It’s going to take some time to get back, but I know I’ll get there. I’ll get to deep, efficient games.”
Davies doesn’t have Glasnow’s excuse of inexperience. He made 28 starts in 2016, and averaged nearly a full extra inning per start then. This season, he’s yet to make it through the sixth inning.
But he, too, is coming off some of his better performances. He threw five scoreless innings with six hits allowed and six strikeouts against the Reds on April 25 and followed that up with a five-inning, two-run outing against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 1.
“Getting Zach going in the right direction is really big for us,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told MLB.com. “The command of the fastball is what it always starts with for Zach.”
Davies has walked two batters or fewer in each start since he handed out four free passes in his 2017 debut. But in his career against the Pirates, it’s been a walk parade.
He’s handed out 11 in 10 1/3 innings over three career starts, which helped inflate his ERA to 13.06 against the Pirates. He’s 0-2 in those games.
Glasnow has never faced the Brewers.
If it does come down to the bullpens, it could be a close contest. The Pirates’ relievers have a 3.90 ERA on the season, with the Brewers coming in at 3.88.
But in the first two games of the series — both Pirates win — it was the home bullpen that did the heavy lifting. Wade LeBlanc pitched three scoreless innings coming out of a rain delay Friday to earn a win and usual closer Tony Watson pitched the ninth and 10th with the game tied Saturday before the Pirates won in walk-off fashion.