Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, David Freese 3B, John Jaso RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Stew C & Gerrit Cole P. Looks like J-Hay is gonna be returned to the top of the order in Starling's absence. Bell should be more comfortable there; he's a contact hitter and miscast in the middle of the order. JJ has played some LF before; this will be his first MLB start in right.
|Looks like Cutch will be back in the middle of things again (photo via MLB.com)|
Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (1-1, 2.59) has gotten stronger every start. Against the Cubs in his last outing, he hit 99+ with his heater, mixed three pitches and showed a fourth while changing locations well. He looked like a pitcher instead of a thrower. Cole Train only saw the Cards twice last year and was pretty strong in his eight frames (he left one game after just two IP when his bicep injury flared up), going 1-0/2.25, and has been effective against them during his career, slashing 5-3/2.82 in 10 lifetime starts. Michael Wacha (1-1, 3.00) struggled last season, suffering from should inflammation that limited his effectiveness. He was 0-1 against the Bucs in four starts with a 6.38 ERA in 2016 and has never really been a Pirates nemesis, slashing 3-2/4.25 in 10 career starts. Wacha Wacha has been pretty solid in his two outings this season, going 12 frames and giving up four earned runs on nine hits with 14 K. He's also been tough on the Pirates at Busch (2-1/2.83 slash in six regular-season games with five starts) and has one of the top soft contact rates in the league early on. So it won't be easy for the Buc bats to find a groove...sound familiar?
- The Pirates have an off day tomorrow after 13 consecutive games before taking on the Yankees for a three-game weekend set at PNC Park.
- Treading water (or worse) in April has sorta been a Bucco MO. If they take this game, they'll be off to the same start (7-8) that they had last year.
- Wade LeBlanc has made three straight scoreless appearances and has surrendered one earned run in his last 9-1/3 IP. In 13 games since being acquired by the Pirates last September, LeBlanc has posted a 2.08 ERA (2.81 FIP) and has an opponent BA of just .162 w/.0646 WHIP - and all with a K rate of just five/nine innings!
|Jose is the newest Bucco (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)|
- Jose Osuna Cliff Notes: Jose hit .250 with five doubles and an RBI in 10 Indy games but he really got on the radar in camp. In 22 games during spring training, Osuna hit .407 with five home runs and 17 RBI. We'll see if that was just a spring fling or the real thing. The Venezuelan 24-year-old will wear #64, and looks like he's mostly going to be a bench bat. His best position is first base; he's played some OF but it's not his comfort zone.