Tonight’s the night we’ve all been waiting for. Gerrit Cole is going to make his major league debut with the Pirates, almost exactly two years after the Pirates made him the number one overall pick back in 2011, facing the Giants in his first career big league start. Cole is currently filling in for Wandy Rodriguez, but has a chance to stay with the big league club permanently, provided he performs well. The Giants will send Tim Lincecum to the hill to face Cole tonight.
Lincecum hasn’t been himself over the last year and a half. His 2012 numbers were atrocious, and he was even demoted to the bullpen last season. This year hasn’t been as bad for Lincecum, his numbers are a 4-5 record, an ERA of 4.75, and a WHIP of 1.389. Against the Pirates over his career, he holds a 1-2 record, and a 4.45 ERA. His last start against the Pirates was an incredibly bad one, giving up seven runs (six earned), over only 3.1 IP.
Cole is coming in as an unproven guy in the big leagues. He looks the part, and has had a good bit of success in the minors. Problem is, plenty of guys have success in the minors. Great things are expected from Cole, and tonight is a big game for Pirates fans. Cole comes in carrying a nineteen scoreless inning streak from AAA Indianapolis, and his ERA so far this season is 2.91, after having a bit of a rough start early in the season.
The Giants come in with a record of 33-29, and a 5-5 record over their last ten games. Contrary to the recent Giants formula, they’re having more offensive success, and the pitching is more mediocre this year. As a team, they rank third in the NL in batting average, seventh in runs, and fifth in on base percentage. Pablo Sandoval is not expected to play, due to a nagging foot injury.
The Pirates will hope to fire up the bats tonight, given their recent struggles, their relative success against Lincecum, and the much-heralded debut of their top prospect, tonight would be a great night for the offense to kick into gear. If the Pirates find a way to jump on Lincecum early tonight, it will help Cole to pitch with greater confidence, and provide a snowball effect for the rest of the series.
The Pirates lineup for tonight’s game looks like this: