After going scoreless for the first 14 innings of 2012, the Pirates now have a chance to sneak a series win from out underneath the Phillies on Easter Sunday. The Bucs do get a bit of a break this afternoon with the Phillies electing to save Cole Hamels for their own home opener, sending Vance Worley to the mound this afternoon instead. Worley was excellent in his rookie year for the Phils last year, but he exceeded his minor league numbers by a good margin and most people think it’s a good bit that he’ll come back to earth some this season. After opening the season against Lee and Halladay, Worley is a welcome respite, even if he’s still a pretty good pitcher.
The Pirates will meanwhile counter with James McDonald. As I’ve said, I think McDonald is one of the Pirates’ keys to the season in the coming year and there’s a lot hinging on his ability to throw his non-fastball pitches for strikes. He bounced all over the place in spring training; he sandwiched an excellent start with two terrible ones. It’s probably a good thing that he’ll open the season up with this decimated Phillies’ lineup. Erik Bedard, Jeff Karstens, and the Pirates’ pen has shut the Phillies down to this point and so if McDonald is on-point this afternoon, there’s no reason to think he can’t continue the trend. The Pirates’ schedule doesn’t get any easier for the rest of this month once they leave PNC, so getting a win today to kick things off with a series win would be awfully nice.
First pitch this afternoon is at 1:35.