Aug. 31 MLB Preview — Pittsburgh Pirates (58-77) at Colorado Rockies (59-77)

(Tim Melville photo courtesy Russell Lansford/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Saturday, Aug. 31, Coors Field, Denver, Colo., 8:10 p.m. EDT.

Tim Melville looks to continue his stretch of productive starts Saturday night when he takes the ball for the Colorado Rockies as their four-game series continues versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Musgrove tries to close out August on positive note

While Joe Musgrove (8-12, 4.67 ERA) has already set a single-season career high for wins, he has not added to that total this month and enters this contest looking to snap a personal three-game losing streak.

The right-hander has taken an interesting approach to prepare for this start, working on his cardio and conditioning to help acclimate to the thin Denver air. How much that helps his pitching — Musgrove is 0-3 with a 6.67 ERA in five August starts — is unknown.

“I went out and ran a bunch of sprints and did my long-distance running before my pen to try and wear myself out a little bit,” Musgrove told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday after changing up his bullpen routine. “I wanted to see how my body felt after I’d had some use and tried to simulate the fifth, sixth inning on the legs a little bit and I felt really good.”

Musgrove may also want to consider whatever he did last year, taking a tough-luck loss at Coors despite holding the Rockies to two runs — one earned — in seven innings of a 2-0 setback Aug. 6, 2018.

That is also his only career start versus Colorado, and the right-hander is 4-6 with a 3.93 ERA in 13 road starts this season.

Melville grinding to stick with Rockies

Melville (1-0, 0.75 ERA) spent all of last season with Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk and signed a minor league deal with the Rockies in May and being an effective member of the Albuquerque Isotopes’ rotation with a 10-5 record and 5.42 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

The 29-year-old had only six major league appearances and three starts to his credit when the Rockies purchased his contract Aug. 21, but the wait has been well worth it for the right-hander as he has notched his first big league win and pitched well in both outings.

Melville did not factor in the decision Monday at home versus Atlanta, working in and out of trouble around five hits and three walks in five shutout innings — including a bases-loaded jam in the fifth — before the Rockies eventually recorded a 3-1 walk-off win.

“His experience and his path to get back to the big leagues, with that comes some calmness,” Rockies manager Bud Black told the club’s official website about Melville. “He’s enjoying the moment.”

Melville made his major league debut against the Pirates in 2016 pitching for Cincinnati, allowing a solo homer and four other hits over four innings and not factoring in the decision of the Reds’ 2-1 walk-off win.

Notable Trends

The Rockies are:

  • 0-7 in their last seven games vs. NL Central opponents.
  • 1-6 in their last seven games vs. right-handed starters.
  • 5-11 in their last 16 vs. sub-.500 teams.

The Pirates are:

  • 12-4 in their last 16 road games vs. the Rockies.
  • 4-0 in their last four games vs. NL West opponents.
  • 4-0 in their last four games vs. sub-.500 teams.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Pirates OVER 6.5 runs (-125)

A combination pick of Melville regressing as previously stated coupled with the Pirates continuing to mash the ball at Coors. They have scored 20 runs in the first two games of this series and plated nine or more runs in four of their last seven contests.

Colorado has also given up seven or more runs in six of its last eight contests — including the last four.

****4-Star Pick****

OVER 13.5 runs (-110)

It’s always difficult to trust a rookie pitcher at Coors Field, and Melville is no exception. The over has also been strongly trending with Musgrove, going 6-2 in his last eight road starts, 5-2 in his last seven against sub-.500 opponents, and 4-0-1 in his last five on four days of rest.

The over is also 7-4 in the last 11 meetings between the teams at Coors after narrowly missing Friday night.

Pirates -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-105)

The Rockies are 0-7-1 at the midway point in their last eight games after trailing in the first two games of this series as their pitching and hitting have not synced in that stretch. Colorado has been blanked three times in that stretch and scored three runs on three other occasions but also yielded five or more runs seven times in that stretch.

***3-Star Picks***

Pirates ML (-125)

The hedge here is equal parts Musgrove getting off the schneid and Melville regressing after two stellar starts. The Pirates looked like they have finally moved on from their miserable post All-Star break funk and playing more like the team that reached the break just under .500.

After Melville did well to escape trouble in his last start, the feeling is the Pirates will capitalize on those opportunities against the righty.

OVER 7.5 runs first 5 innings (-131)

A confidence pick in Pittsburgh’s offense while using the alternate line to bring the hook on the low side. There is also the expectation Musgrove will give up at least two runs to help the cause here, along with Colorado’s pitchers to continue to struggle in the early going.

Pirates OVER 2 runs first 3 innings (-110)

Though Melville emerged unscathed through the first three innings of his last start, the expectation is he will not be as fortunate this time. It was also the only game of Colorado’s last eight it did not allow at least two runs in the first three innings.

The Pirates have pushed across two or more runs in the first three innings in five of their last seven games.

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