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Pirates are bad right now: Pirates at Phillies preview, May 11

The Phillies open a three-game series against their intra-state "rivals," the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

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Hey, don't look now, but the Pittsburgh Pirates are kinda bad.

I mean, they're not "Phillies" bad, but they're clearly not where they want to be right now, sitting at 15-16 and a staggering 7 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, in fourth place in the National League Central. This is a team that many, including myself, picked to win the Central, but with the front-running Cardinals on fire and the Pirates struggling to keep their head above water, it's gotten a bit ugly in the early going.

It's quite possible the Pirates have been passed by the Chicago Cubs, who are just a half-game ahead of them. The Pirates are also tied with the Cincinnati Reds, so it's not like there's a great chasm between fourth and second place. Nonetheless, it's been slow going early on for them.

One of the most surprising developments of the Pirates' sluggish start has been the equally stilted beginning for former MVP Andrew McCutchen, who is hitting .223/.310/.348 with a mere two home runs, a wRC+ of 87 and only 0.2 fWAR so far. He cut off all his hair in the beginning of the season, so there could be a Biblical connection to all this. But we're still dealing in the land of small sample size, not the land of milk and honey, so we'll pump the brakes a bit on this one.

Probable Pitchers

Gerrit Cole -- One of the few things to go right for Pittsburgh so far is the emergence of Cole as the team's ace. In six starts he is 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA, a 2.62 FIP, 39 strikeouts and 10 walks in 35.2 innings. He is coming off his worst start of the season when he went five innings and allowed three runs on eight hits in a 3-0 loss to the Reds. Of course, for most Phils pitchers, that's considered a quality start, so we're grading on a bit of a curve here, aren't we?

Bottom line, if you're looking for a pitcher tonight in DFS, go get Cole. Watching one of the best arms in the NL go up against a Phils team that has managed to score only 2.84 runs a game this year, dead last in Major League Baseball, should work wonders for you, no matter the cost.

Jerome Williams -- Oh boy. Jerry Williams, he of the 5.18 ERA and 4.55 FIP in six starts this year, going up against Cole? Do we really need to break this down all that much? He allowed six runs in 4.1 innings his last time out against the Atlanta Braves. I'm not liking his chances tonight.

Advantage: Cole