By Matthew Kruth, The Burgh Blog Writer, @theburghblog_mk
Pittsburgh (3-0) @ Cincinnati (3-0)
CINCINNATI – The Pirates hope to continue their hot start and take early control of the NL Central as they match up against the Cincinnati Reds. The Pittsburgh comes into the series fresh off of an opening series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Pittsburgh’s pitching staff has looked sharp to start the year. They have a combined 37 strikeouts through the first series of the year.
Game 1, Friday 7:10
Francisco Liriano opens the series against Alfredo Simon. Liriano started Opening Day, and was able to hold the Cardinals scoreless through six innings with 10 K’s. Liriano had sharp movement on the slider, but he didn’t have the fastball command fans are used to seeing. Liriano’s inconsistency with control lead to 5 walks. When Liriano can command the fastball, it sets up the effectiveness of his offspeed arsenal. Look for him to establish the heater early on during Friday’s game.
Game 2, Saturday 1:10
Gerrit Cole makes his season debut on Saturday against Raisel Iglesias. Cole had been dealing with a rib injury during spring training which is why he didn’t pitch in the opening series. In six career starts against the Reds, Cole is 0-4 with a 5.23 ERA.
Iglesias is coming off a no-decision against the Phillies on Monday for the Reds first game of the season. He pitched six innings giving up two earned runs with seven strikeouts. Iglesias made his MLB debut last year and put up average numbers; a 4.15 ERA in 95.1 innings. He enters his first full season as one of the Reds’ most vital young pieces in their rebuild.1
Game 3, Sunday 1:10
*The Reds have not formally announced that Anthony DeSclafani will be starting on Sunday, but he is widely expected to make the start.*
The series wraps up on Sunday with Jeff Locke taking on Anthony DeSclafani. Locke comes into this season with some question marks surrounding his future in the starting rotation. With top prospects on the way, and Juan Nicasio’s emergence, Locke’s rotation spot may be up for grabs if his performance is not up to par.
DeSclafani is young southpaw who is in a similar situation as Iglesias. The Reds hope he can develop into a solid piece to their core rotation for years to come. He comes into Sunday’s game with a career 4.28 ERA in 36 major league starts. Its a small sample size and his peripherals suggest that he has pitched better than those numbers would suggest. If the Pirates have faced DeSclafani four times in this brief career, and he has looked pretty good, averaging about six innings a start and a 2.59 ERA. The Pirates face their biggest challenge of the series on Sunday.
Update: Tim Melville will get the start for the Reds, not DeSclafani.
Game 1: Pirates 4, Reds 2 Player of the Game: Andrew McCutchen
Game 2: Pirates 5, Reds 2 Player of the Game: Francisco Cervelli
Game 3: Pirates 1, Reds 4 Player of the Game: Jay Bruce
For a complete recap of the Pirates opening series with the Cardinals, click here.