Despite what the media will tell you, the game after Opening Day is just as important as Opening Day. Tonight’s game will see Jon Niese make his Pirates debut as he takes the mound opposite Cards righty Michael Wacha. First pitch is set for 7:05PM and the game will be televised on MLB Network and available in the Pittsburgh area. ROOT Sports has the Pens game on instead. If you’re headed for the PNC Park, bundle up as the forecast for tonight’s game should be clear, but cold with temps in the upper 30’s.
Niese was acquired from the Mets in the much talked offseason deal for Neil Walker. A lot of people are uneasy about how Niese will perform, but Niese has been a consistent starter for the Mets with a 3.65 ERA (3.88 FIP) in the past four seasons. He’s even had fairly good success against the Cards with a career 3.10 ERA in nine starts against St. Louis. Niese is the kind of pitcher the Pirates look to acquire and you have to think there’s a good chance that he’ll put up better numbers with the Bucs as a lot of acquired pitchers have improved their career numbers with the Pirates.
The undefeated Pirates (that’s fun to write) face a pitcher they haven’t had much success against lately. Wacha is 3-1 with a 3.19 ERA in seven games against the Bucs, including a win in a heartbreaking Game 4 of the NLDS in 2013.
Hurdle will run out the same exact lineup as Opening Day as the Jaso-Cutch-Freese top three order gets its second opportunity to produce.
The North Shore Nine