Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the Pirate’s number 1 Prospect and the number 8 prospect in the MLB is making his Major League debut tonight. At first glance it appears that Gerrit Cole drew the short straw having to face the defending world champs to start his big league career. San Fransisco also currently boast the 6th best team batting average in the league and the 11th best On Base Percentage. However, things get a little bit brighter for Cole when we look at the numbers and splits. First, the Giants lose a big part of their offense as Pablo Sandoval has gone to the 15-Day DL for a left foot sprain. Kung Fu Panda was hitting for a .290 average with 8 homers before going down. He will be replaced tonight by Joaquin Arias who currently has a .220 average and has 2 hits in the last 7 days. Also, with the exception of Hunter Pence the Giant’s lineup has struggled hitting at PNC. Over the last 3 years, the current lineup hits for a .221 average in Pittsburgh, and if you take out Pence’s numbers, that average dips to .192.
The Giant’s lineup also includes, 4 righties, 1 switch hitter who struggles against right-handed pitchers, and Tim Lincecum who has a .113 career average and is hitting .053 vs RHP this year. Ultimately, this San Fran lineup hits for a .244 average against RHP. In 12 starts this year, Cole has held right-handed batters to a .144 average and 5 XBH.
Cole has the ability to be a dominant pitcher in the Majors and that era of dominance could start tonight. It’ll be a tough task but the flame thrower does have some advantages going into the game. It’s been said that Cole has been hit down in AAA this year when he seems to get “bored” on the mound. Facing sub-par talent, Gerrit may have had his setting on cruise control…well that wont be the case tonight. Cole has been wanting this start since spring training and will be dialed in the entire time. I cant wait to see some of Cole45′s triple digit fastballs, devastating sliders and curves, and his new-and-improved change ups. Let’s hope they’re all on display tonight.