PITTSBURGH — At long last, in Game 50 of the 2018 season, the Pirates will get their first look at Joe Musgrove in their uniform.
Musgrove’s right shoulder was barking from the start of spring training, but after four rehab starts at three different minor-league levels, he’ll face the Cardinals two days shy of Memorial Day. In this first of a three-game set against St. Louis, the Pirates will be trying to overcome a 1-5 slide against two of the worst teams in Major League Baseball in the Padres and Reds.
Musgrove admitted to “butterflies” earlier this week, according to MLB.com’s Adam Berry. Musgrove hasn’t pitched since Game 6 of the 2017 World Series, when he was working exclusively out of the Astros bullpen.
To make room for Musgrove on the 25-man roster, the Pirates have designated struggling reliever George Kontos for assignment. Essentially, that means the team has seven days to decide what they want to do with Kontos, whether that be placing him on waivers, granting him his release, or trading him.
The 32-year-old Kontos was circumspect about his struggles when reporters approached him this afternoon, but he didn’t sound like he was ready to call it a career just yet, despite his quality of stuff having decreased from last year’s promising stint in the Pirates bullpen.
“I still have a lot left in this game,” Kontos said. “I would imagine, hopefully, somebody takes a shot on a guy who’s been around a little bit and knows how to pitch.”
The Pirates will likely have another roster decision soon, as Starling Marte is scheduled to go through a full-range workout today as he tries to return from a strained oblique. Austin Meadows has crushed it in the meantime, making some wonder if the team might keep the rookie up and send someone like Adam Frazier or José Osuna to Triple-A.
The just-completed series in Cincinnati marked the first time in five series this season that the Pirates (27-22, 3.0 games back) didn’t get the better of a National League Central rival. While the first-place Brewers have taken off lately, the middle three teams in the division have stagnated, with the Cardinals (26-21, 3.0 GB) having dropped four of seven entering the weekend.
For Clint Hurdle’s second-place Pirates …
Here’s our lineup, presented by Honda. #LetsGoBucs
— Pirates (@Pirates) May 25, 2018
The Pirates waited a couple hours for Francisco Cervelli to test the jammed finger that held him out of Thursday’s game in Cincinnati, but apparently he’s good to go.
For Mike Matheny, this group of Cardinals will try for their first win against the Pirates in four tries this season …
Righty John Gant (4.67 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 1.10 WHIP) gets the start for St. Louis, his third of the season against three relief appearances.
That frigid April (and first half of May) feels far away now. First-pitch temperature should be somewhere in the high 80s under clear blue sky. No chance of precipitation until after midnight, per Weather.com. Play ball!