Rafael Ortega leads off in center, Frank Schwindel is at first, Ian Happ Nats third in left, and Willson Contreras cleans up behind the plate. Matt Duffy plays third, Nick Martini is in right, David Bote is at second, and Sergio Alcántara is at short.
Justin Steele might not necessarily be auditioning for a starting spot next season, but he’s not not auditioning either. The lefty has had a pretty rough go of it since joining the rotation and could really use a strong effort to close out his season on a high note. He’s had to face some very good offenses over his last four starts, so the Pirates should at least put up less of a fight.
Taking the mound for the Pirates is 23-year-old Miguel Yajure, who I can honestly say I had never heard of prior to writing this post. He actually made his MLB debut with the Yankees toward the end of the 2020 season and was then traded to Pittsburgh in the Jameson Taillon deal. Wednesday’s starter, Roansy Contreras, was also in that trade.
Yajure started two games earlier in the season, one in April and another in May, before being placed on the 60-day IL due to soreness in his throwing elbow and forearm. He was activated last week and made a 3.2 inning relief appearance that included two homers and three earned runs. It was also very clear he did not have a feel for his cutter, which had previously been one of his favorite pitches.
With a fastball that sits around 91 mph, Yajure is a big-time junkballer who favors the changeup and breaking stuff. His offspeed makes up about 25% of his offerings and the cutter had been about the same prior to his last outing. He’ll soften the cutter to a slider about 15% of the time and then the curve makes up roughly 10% of his pitches. In most situations, his fastball is only at about 28% and his sinker is around 6% or so.
That last outing saw almost 50% “hard” stuff, which explains why he got tagged. When you don’t throw very fast and don’t have the secondaries working, you’re going to have a very difficult time getting professional hitters out. We’ll see what Yajure has in store tonight and whether he’s able to dial in the breaking ball, though he doesn’t figure to work deep even if he’s dealing.
First pitch is at 5:35pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.