The Pittsburgh Pirates have made the surprise announcement that A.J. Burnett will be the 2013 Opening Day starter. Shocking right?
Looking a bit deeper, A.J. Burnett has more career wins than any pitcher to toe the rubber on Opening Day since Tim Wakefield got the nod in 1993.
Wakefield was following up his brilliant rookie season which saw him go 8-1 and put up an ERA+ of 162. The Buccos knuckleballer took the mound in 1993 and pitched the Pirates to an 8-4 victory before thousands of drunks at Three Rivers.
Zane Smith took the 8-0 loss against the Giants at Candlestick in 1994.
In 1995, Jon Lieber took the 6-2 loss against those pesky Montreal Expos at Three Rivers Stadium.
In 1996, Paul Wagner got the 4-0 victory over the Florida Marlins at Joe Robbie Stadium
In 1997, Jon Lieber got the Opening Day nod again but did not factor in the win over the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park.
Back in 1998, Francisco Córdova was the victor against those Expos, avenging their knack for knocking off the Pirates on the nation’s national holiday.
In 1999, Francisco Córdova took the loss as the Expos returned the favor with a 9-2 thumping at Three Rivers.
Jason Schmidt took the loss as the 200 Bucs fell 5-2 to the Houston Astros at Three Rivers.
In 2001, Todd Ritchie was the loser in a 3-2 decision against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Ron Villone, sigh, was the loser as the Bucs dropped a 6-2 decision at Shea Stadium against the New York Mets in 2002.
Before most anyone knew about his wild wife, Kris Benson got the love from his Buccos teammates in a 10-1 drubbing of the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
In 2004, Kip Wells was the winner of a 2–1 decision against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park.
The Brewers knocked around Oliver Perez and the Buccos in 2005 at PNC Park in a 9-2 win.
The Brewers knocked around Oliver Perez and the Buccos in 2006 at PNC Park in a 5-2 win.
In 2007, southpaw Zach Duke didn’t factor in the 4-2 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
In 2008, Ian Snell wasn’t around when the Buccos pulled out a wild 12-11 win over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
Paul Maholm and the Pirates were victorious in 2009 over the St. Louis Cardinals Opening Day at Busch Stadium.
In 2010, Zach Duke got his first Opening Day victory as the Buccos behind the slugging of Garrett Jones downed the Dodgers 11-5 at PNC Park.
In 2011, The Win Collector Kevin Correia chalked up the first of 24 career wins as a Pirates pitcher as the Bucs downed the Cubs 6-2 at Wrigley Field.
Erik Bedard took the loss as the Bucs offense failed to show up for the 2012 lid lifter at PNC Park. The Phillies shutout the Buccos 1-0.
Wakefield 200 career wins
A.J Burnett 137 career wins
Lieber 131 wins
Zane Smith 100 wins
Kris Benson 70 wins
Paul Maholm 66 wins
Erik Bedard 63 wins
Kevin Correia 60 wins
Oliver Perez 59 wins
Zach Duke 49 wins
Francisco Cordova 42 wins
Ian Snell 38 wins
Paul Wagner 29 wins
So what will A.J. Burnett do this year?