Phillies (28-54) vs. Pirates (38-46)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App
After blanking the Pirates in the series opener Monday, the Phillies themselves were shut out on July 4, the second time this season Pittsburgh's pitching has kept them off the board.
The Phils have five games remaining before the All-Star break, meaning one more chance for each starting pitcher to build a little momentum.
1. Lively from New York
There was some good and some not so good from Ben Lively last Saturday at Citi Field.
He had four walks, including one of pitcher Jacob deGrom, and threw a wild pitch. For such a control-oriented pitcher, it was surprising to see.
But Lively was able to minimize the damage, allowing just two runs over 6⅓ innings. The pair of double plays he induced in the first two innings certainly helped.
Six starts into his big-league career, the 25-year-old Lively is 1-3 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. He's struck out 13 and walked 12 in 38⅔ innings.
Lively's rate of 3.03 strikeouts per nine innings is by far the lowest in all of baseball among starters with at least 30 innings. Texas' Andrew Cashner is next-closest at 4.36.
One of the reasons this matters is that a pitcher often needs a swing-and-miss when he's in a jam with less than two outs. If you can't get that swinging strike, you're relying on soft contact and apt defensive placement.
Lively has avoided catastrophic outings by getting good results with runners in scoring position — his opponents are just 7 for 37 (.189). With two outs and runners in scoring position, they're 2 for 13.
This will be Lively's third start at Citizens Bank Park. In the first two, he went 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA.
Righties have hit .286 off Lively and lefties .279, but lefties have a .372 OBP with eight walks and just five K's. Ordinarily, you'd see a team stack the lefties against a pitcher with those numbers, but the Pirates don't have a ton. There figure to be three left-handed hitters max in the lineup in outfielders Gregory Polanco, Adam Frazier and switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell. John Jaso also hits from the left side but plays only the corner outfield and first base, so if he starts it would come at the expense of one of those three.
2. Phils get Gerrit Cole
The Phillies face Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, whom they missed in Pittsburgh in May.
Cole, perhaps the top starting pitcher on the trade market, is having his worst big-league season. Through 17 starts, he's 6-7 with a 4.51 ERA. He had a 3.23 ERA the prior four seasons.
He also sports his lowest career strikeout rate (7.6 per nine), and he's already allowed more home runs than ever before. Cole has been taken deep 18 times this season; his previous career high was 11, and he allowed 18 homers combined in 2015 and 2016 in 223 more innings than he's pitched in '17.
His velocity is still the same at an average of 96 mph, it's just come down to command. His opponents have hit .296 against the heater, which he's thrown with a bit less frequency.
Cole has one of those power sinkers — a bowling-ball type fastball that comes in heavy and drops at the last second — and a power slider with tight, late break that often gets right-handed hitters to chase. Those pitches have helped him to a career groundball rate of 47.7 percent, fifth-highest among NL starting pitchers with as many innings as him over that span.
Cole has faced the Phillies six times and gone 3-3 with a 3.45 ERA. In his last start against them (last Sept. 12 at Citizens Bank Park), Cole allowed five runs and eight baserunners and lasted just two innings.
A few Phillies have decent numbers against him. Maikel Franco is 3 for 6 with a double. Freddy Galvis is 3 for 9 with a homer and a double. Odubel Herrera is 3 for 10 but with six strikeouts.
3. McCutchen hitting his way out of town
Andrew McCutchen is doing exactly what the Pirates needed him to do to reestablish his trade value. Pittsburgh wasn't enticed by the offers it got at the winter meetings or this offseason after a down 2016 from its franchise player. But the way McCutchen is hitting and hitting for power right now, interest is bound to pick back up over the next four weeks.
McCutchen hit two missiles for home runs on July 4, giving him 16 on the season. His batting average is up to .288 through 81 games, which is hard to believe considering he was hitting exactly .200 through 45.
In 151 plate appearances since May 24, McCutchen has hit .408/.503/.736 with nine doubles, 10 homers, 29 RBIs and 30 runs. Over that span, his batting average ranks first in the majors and his OBP and slugging percentage are second.
And in his last four games at Citizens Bank Park, McCutchen is 9 for 17 with five homers (four solos) and a double.
4. Galvis in the two-hole
Freddy Galvis has been at his most productive this season when batting second. He's hit .310/.363/.476 out of the two-hole, where he's hit 12 games in a row.
Galvis had a double, two walks and a stolen base Tuesday, the Phils' best individual performance on a weak offensive afternoon.
Galvis has hit .304 with an .828 OPS over his last 30 games, and .357 with a .961 OPS over his last 13.
5. This and that
• Andrew Knapp walked three more times Tuesday as his OBP rose to .361. He hasn't been all that clutch, hitting .194 with RISP and going 1 for 8 with five strikeouts with a man on third and less than two outs, but turning the lineup over at the bottom of the order is important and it's good to see Knapp showing some command of the strike zone.
• At .344, Aaron Altherr's on-base percentage is the lowest it's been since his sixth game of the season.
• Aside from McCutchen, the Pirates on Tuesday went 2 for 26 with no extra-base hits and nine strikeouts.