The Pirates head out to the west coast this weekend, carrying a 1-2 record. They’ve hit just .144 (13 for 90) as a team with six runs scored, and have yet to put a ball over the fence. Andrew McCutchen leads the team with a .300 batting average, while Russell Martin, Jose Tabata, and Travis Snider are a combined 0 for 16 to start the season. It won’t get any easier for the Bucs, as they’ll face some of the Dodgers’ top pitchers this weekend. Here’s a look…
On Friday night, Zack Greinke will make his Dodgers debut. The 29 year old right-hander admitted that he went to the Dodgers for the money:
[quote_center]”I could play for the worst team if they paid the most. If the last-place team offers $200 million and the first-place team offers $10, I’m going to go for the $200 million no matter what team it was.”[/quote_center]
Greinke was arguably the top free agent on the market this winter. His signing with Los Angeles easily increased their payroll and chances of winning. He can throw six different pitches (fastball, sinker, cutter, slider, curveball, changeup), and is 4-1 in his career vs. Pittsburgh. The Bucs cracked Greinke for six runs (five earned) on seven hits in Milwaukee last season.
Jonathan Sanchez will face off against Greinke and make his Pirates debut. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares against Matt Kemp & Co.
Clayton Kershaw, two-time All-Star and 2011 Cy Young Award winner, gets the nod for LA on Saturday. Kershaw’s performance on Opening Day was unbelievable; not only did he throw a complete game shut-out against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, he also hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning.
Nearly unhittable when he’s on, Kershaw is arguably the top left-handed pitcher in the game today. Plus, he’s only 25 years old (born March 19, 1988); to put that in perspective, he’s only seven months older than Starling Marte and a year and a half younger than Andrew McCutchen. Despite his young age, he’s appeared in 152 big league games and holds a 2.77 career ERA. Kershaw needs to pitch just 47 more innings to reach 1,000 in his career.
A.J. Burnett will go on Saturday, as he’ll be pitching on regular rest. Hopefully A.J. brings his “A” game to match up with Kershaw.
LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, who made his MLB debut on Tuesday night, gets the ball on Sunday. He allowed three runs (one earned) on 10 hits vs. San Francisco, escaping trouble with a trio of double plays. The 26 year old southpaw hails from Incheon, South Korea and received a six-year, $36 million deal to pitch for Los Angeles.
Jeff Locke, the youngest pitcher in the starting rotation, will start for the Pirates. He posted a 2.63 ERA and surrendered just one home run in 27.1 innings this spring; hopefully he can carry that performance over into the regular season.
After their off-day on Thursday, the Dodger bullpen should be well-rested for this series as well. The Bucs got nice outings from the first three starters of the year, although Burnett is the only one who will pitch in Los Angeles.
Starting Friday, the Buccos will face clubs that finished .500 or better in their next 29 games.
Here’s to hoping the Pirates’ offense can explode and win a few ballgames in LA.