I think I’ve pretty much covered the Polanco Hysteria by this point, but the last thing I wanted to do was to link to a recent scouting report of Polanco by Mike Newman of ROTO Scouting. He does a really nice job of summarizing why you should be excited about Polanco (basically, he’s filling out into his big frame, he’s incredibly athletic, and he’s got great bat speed/hand speed in the batter’s box) and why he might still need some adjustment time (he’s raw in right field and he’s probably susceptible to off-speed stuff for now). Definitely check the whole thing out before game time tonight if you can.
It’s also notable that Polanco is the only lefty in the lineup tonight against Travis Wood. With Neil Walker out, that means Harrison, Mercer, Barmes, and Sanchez around the horn in the infield. That’s a pretty big vote of confidence, I think, though obviously the circumstances (Walker’s injury and the fact that you really just can’t call him up and bench him) sort of dictate that he plays tonight no matter what. The Pirates obviously haven’t faced many lefties this year, but one would hope that with Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer both swinging hot bats of late, plus Gaby Sanchez’s usual excellence against lefties, that they can hopefully get back to last year’s success against southpaws. The Pirates have seen Wood once this year, and he struck out nine Pirates in six innings of one-run ball. He’s stumbled a bit lately, though, giving up seven runs to the Brewers two starts ago and walking five in five innings in his last start against the Mets.
Francisco Liriano goes for the Pirates, and his last start was the ridiculous game in which he and the bullpen combined to throw a one-hitter and still lose 3-2 thanks to nine walks total, six from Liriano in his five innings. I can’t even pretend to see a pattern with him this year. Two of his last five starts were really excellent, and the other three have been awful. The Cubs looked completely punchless last night and that might seem like a reason to be hopeful, but then, the Padres were completely punchless last week, and Liriano still struggled against them. With Gerrit Cole out, the Pirates need Liriano to be better, and that’s the end of the discussion.
First pitch tonight is at 7:05. Gregory Polanco is batting second.