Top stats to know: Pirates at Cardinals

AP Photo/J Pat Carter

Since making his major league debut, Gregory Polanco has reached base safely in 24 of his 27 games.The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals play the third game of their four-game series tonight at Busch Stadium (8 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). The Cardinals won the first two games of the series with consecutive walk-off home runs.

Here are some storylines our broadcast crew will touch upon tonight.

Pirates Starting Pitching

After play on June 20, the Pirates were 35-38 and nine games out of first in the NL Central. Since that time, Pittsburgh has won 12 of its past 17 games to move within 4½ games of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Pittsburgh was expected to start Gerrit Cole, but he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a tight lat muscle. Cole has pitched well against the Cardinals in his career, with a 2.16 ERA in four career starts (two in the regular season, two in the postseason).

Expected to take his place is Brandon Cumpton, who will be recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. Cumpton has made nine starts for the Pirates this season and has gone 3-2 with a 4.61 ERA. He has one career start against St. Louis, a 6-0 Pittsburgh win on July 30, 2013, in which he threw seven shutout innings.

Lance Lynn’s Fastball

Lance Lynn Pitch Selection

This season, Lance Lynn is using his fastball 78.6 percent of the time. Only Bartolo Colón (81.7 percent) uses the pitch more.

Last year, Lynn was second in the majors in the stat, but he has increased his usage this season.

Gregory Polanco Channeling His Inner Barry Bonds

Since his MLB debut on June 10, Polanco has reached base safely in 24 of his 27 games. Included in that was an 11-game hitting streak to begin his career, the longest such streak in franchise history.

Notable Pirates, First 27 Career Games

Overall, the start of his career is eerily similar to that of another Pirates outfielder -- Barry Bonds.

Matt Holiday Struggles

Matt Holliday is having one of the worst seasons of his career. His batting average (.260), slugging percentage (.375) and at-bats per home run (64.6) are the lowest in his career, while his on-base percentage (.366) is his worst since 2005, his second year in the majors.