PITTSBURGH — It’s the start of National League play for the Pirates after a 4-1 start that was all built on interleague action against the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins.
Thursday starts a four-game series against one of the Pirates’ oldest divisional foes, the Cincinnati Reds.
Steven Brault will make his first start of the season after breaking camp in the Pirates’ bullpen. I wrote this morning about the back-and-forth experience for Brault between the bullpen and the rotation this spring.
The Reds will start the series with right-hander Homer Bailey. Pirates fans will remember Bailey from when he no-hit the Pirates in 2013. But his dominance over Pittsburgh has continued throughout his career. He has a career 3.39 ERA against the Pirates, over a full run better than his career 4.40 mark.
“It’s not just his numbers,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Their team ERA against us last year was 3.00 and their team ERA against the rest of the league last year was 6.00. We need to do a better job in the box.”
One of the Pirates that has good career numbers against Bailey is third baseman David Freese, who will start in place of Colin Moran. Freese has a career .995 OPS against Bailey with two home runs and two doubles amongst his eight hits in 26 at-bats (.308).
Shortstop Jordy Mercer (right pinky) will return to the lineup after being held out on Wednesday. He injured his finger diving back to first base on Monday.
Matt Gajtka’s Thursday column focused on the Pirates’ opportunity at the intersection of the Pittsburgh sports seasons to take advantage of a window of opportunity before eyeballs turn to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Pirates made a move on Thursday, claiming reliever Jesus Liranzo on waivers. Jon Dreker has the details.
CF Billy Hamilton
3B Eugenio Suarez
1B Joey Votto
LF Adam Duvall
2B Scooter Gennett
RF Jesse Winker
SS Jose Peraza
C Tucker Barnhart
RHP Homer Bailey
The weather.com forecast for first pitch calls for an air temperature of 45 degrees with winds out of the west at 10 MPH. There is a 15 percent chance of precipitation from 9 p.m. to midnight.
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