After an afternoon game and then a day off, it feels like it’s been two weeks since the last Pirates game, but maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. Anyway, the North Shore nine returns tonight against the Padres at Petco Park with first pitch at 10:10PM.
Francisco Liriano returns from missing his last start and him not showing any rust would be nice. Liriano is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA through two starts in the early season. The Bucs need Liriano to be at his best this season, so seeing midseason FranKie after missing a start would be comforting.
The Bucs bring their top OBP offense to San Diego. For an offense that already doesn’t hit many HRs, Petco is perfect for them for hopefully some doubles and triples. Here’s all that the bats have done through two weeks this season: First in OBP with .385, first in average with .295, second in walks with 61, first in hits with 130 and they’re on pace for the most base runners in a season in basically a century. Now obviously it’s extremely early and small sample size, but it shows what this offense has done so far. They just need to start hitting better with runners in scoring position…despite having an MLB-leading 413 baserunners, only 12% of those baserunners have scored on batter’s play and that’s second lowest in the majors. Oh and stop making outs on the base paths, they also lead MLB in outs recorded on the bases with nine. Then again, that’s not surprising considering they’ve had the most baserunners.
This on-base driven offense faces a relatively unknown in Colin Rea. The right-hander has never faced the Bucs and only made eight starts so far in the big leagues. Through three games this season, Rea’s struggled with a 5.56 ERA (5.77 FIP) with an ugly 5.6 BB/9 through just 11.1 innings. Let’s see if the Bucs can take advantage of the struggling rookie.