After their Wild Card victory over the Cincinnati Reds, the celebration was on for the Pittsburgh Pirates. But that celebration had to be cut a little bit short as the Bucs now have to turn their attention to the St. Louis Cardinals.
After he dried off from the champagne shower his team gave him, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had to get busy and set his starting rotation for the NLDS, something he announced Wednesday night.
One through four there’s no real surprise who the Bucs will send to the hill starting with Game 1 starter A.J. Burnett.
Rookie Gerrit Cole draws the Game 2 assignment in St. Louis, followed by Francisco Liriano in Game 3 at PNC Park and Charlie Morton in Game 4.
I really like how things work out for the Pirates this series, especially if Burnett and Cole can get the job done on the road.
Having both Liriano and Morton pitching at home is an ideal situation; one Pirates’ fans should feel very confident about.
Burnett is the wild card as he may be the guy I’m most worried about, but he has gotten the ball against the Red Birds six times this season and has posted a solid 3-1 record with a 3.67 ERA. If Burnett stays away from that one inning that gets him into trouble, he could get the Pirates off to a very good start in this series.
The rookie Cole has yet to face the Cardinals this season but is pitching better than anyone in the rotation right now. He also has that bulldog mentality already and wants the ball. Even though he is a rookie, Cole is ready for the big game atmosphere.
Liriano has faced the Cardinals three times on the season and has gone 3-0 with a spectacular 0.75 ERA in 24 innings pitched. His success at PNC Park has been well documented and having him get the ball in Game 3 is a blessing.
Morton got blown up by the Cardinals once, but also dominated them in the game that ended with Starling Marte’s dropped fly ball. Having him pitch at home though benefits the Pirates as Morton has a 2.85 ERA in over 53 innings pitched at home this season.
The Pirates pitching depth will be on display this series and because of it, they should be very confident going in.
Things can always change depending on how the series goes, but I would expect Hurdle to stick with the four-man rotation instead of bumping Burnett and Cole up a day to go on short rest.
If a Game 5 starter is needed, it will likely be Burnett.