After blasting through the Braves, Rockies, and Diamondbacks over an ten-game homestand, I suspect that the Pirates will face much stiffer competition in Arlington against the Rangers this weekend. The Rangers have a similar record to the Pirates (they’re 27-20), and the rotation has turned so that the Pirates will be starting Jon Niese and Juan Nicasio tonight and tomorrow against Cole Hamels tonight and Yu Darvish in his 2016 debut tomorrow.
Hamels has a sparkly 12-1 record since joining the Rangers last summer, but he’s giving up a ton of home runs and walks this year (10 homers, 21 walks in 57 1/3 innings), and that seems to me like the sort of pitcher that this Pirate offense could wear out pretty quickly. Niese, meanwhile, pitched pretty well on that homestand against Braves and Rockies; he struck out ten, walked three, and only gave up one homer in his 13 innings of work. It should be instructive to see how he fares against the American League’s third-best run scoring offense tonight.
First pitch is at 8:05.