The Pirates can probably stay in the wild card race by hanging around .500 for the next six weeks or so, but if they’re going to re-enter the National League Central race, it’s probably going to have to happen this week. The Pirates blew the Padres’ bullpen wide open last night, and with Gerrit Cole on the mound tonight, it would seem like they have a chance to get even closer to .500 before they play the Brewers this weekend. This is a big juncture in the season for them, I think, and they’re going to need to take advantage of it.
As mentioned, Cole pitches for the Pirates tonight. I feel like I write this every time he starts, but he’s been interesting to watch and really uneven this year. He’s striking out more hitters than last year, but he’s also giving up more walks and home runs. No matter how good he looks in most of his starts, it seems like he finds a way to give up at least a few runs. At this time last year, he was in Triple-A, putting up middling numbers, striking fear into the hearts of Pirate fans everywhere. He obviously heated up with the weather last year and was a big part of the Pirates’ stretch run and playoff run. The Pirates need that to happen again this year. I think it’s time for that to happen.
The Padres, meanwhile, will turn to Jesse Hahn for his first career start. Hahn was traded to the Padres from the Rays’ this winter, and he’s never made a start about the Double-A level. He’s been decent in the Texas League this year, but as a 24-year old that’s decent in Double-A, he’s not exactly a guy that you would expect a big league team to turn to. Given the state of the Padres’ bullpen after last night, I suppose you’d hope to see the Pirates make Hahn throw a lot of pitches, get him into trouble, and get back into the bullpen as quickly as possible. I seriously doubt the Padres will hang someone like Hahn out to dry, so they need to force Bud Black’s hand with him as early as possible.
First pitch tonight is at 10:10 once again, so maybe get your naps in now, just in case we have another four-hour game on our hands tonight.