The big question about a potential game five was whether the Pittsburgh Pirates would start Gerrit Cole instead of A.J. Burnett. Burnett struggled on the road in St. Louis in Game 1, while Cole dominated the Cardinals in Game 2. Both will be available on normal rest for Game 5 on Wednesday, and after Michael Wacha mowed down the Pirates today, there will be a Game 5.
Clint Hurdle announced after the game today that Gerrit Cole would get the Game 5 start over Burnett
“We have one game to win,” Hurdle said. “As I’ve done and I’ve challenged the guys to do, we need to do the best we can to win that next game. I believe that match-up is the best we can do to beat the Cardinals in Game 5.”
Hurdle is right to go with Cole over Burnett. I pointed out several reasons why Cole is the better starter last Friday. It all boils down to the fact that Cole has been dominating for the last month, while Burnett has struggled on the road, and especially on the road against the Cardinals. When you add in that Burnett was hammered at Busch, and Cole dominated, it makes the decision easy.
Hurdle said that the Pirates haven’t talked to either player about the move leading up to the game. They both threw their side sessions in preparation for the start.
“It’s a very hard decision. It’s a difficult decision because [Burnett] has meant so much, we’ve asked so much of him while he’s been here,” Hurdle said. “It has been a very challenging park for him. If this was any other venue, he would have gotten the ball. But for me in this venue this game, Cole is going to be our guy.”
Cole will have a difficult matchup, going up against Adam Wainwright. If the Pirates can pull away a win, that puts them in good position in the NLCS. Burnett is a much better option against either the Braves or Dodgers. The Pirates could go with Liriano and Burnett in games one and two, then Gerrit Cole in game three. That would give the Pirates up to six starts total from those three pitchers in a best of seven series. But first they need to win game five against the Cardinals, and Gerrit Cole gives them the best opportunity to do that.