The Pirates will make their 2020 home debut at 7:05 p.m. tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers, who – like the Bucs – will bring a 1-2 season record into the first game of a three-game set at PNC Park.
The Pirates gave new manager Derek Shelton his first career win as a skipper with a tidy 5-1 decision over the Cardinals in St. Louis. Shelton’s crew received a solid starting effort from Mitch Keller, who did not have his best stuff but was effective when he had to be, and a surprisingly strong effort from the bullpen.
At the top of that list was JT Brubaker, who flashed some downright nasty stuff during his two innings of spotless relief. Michael Feliz also looked good, and Nick Burdi brought velocity that the Cardinals could not catch up with in his one inning of work.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, opened its season with a 3-0 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field Friday, then rebounded to beat Chicago, 8-3, Saturday before falling 9-1 Sunday in the series finale.
The Brewers managed just three hits in their Opening Day loss, with all three hits coming from the No. 9 hitter, Orlando Arcia.
Milwaukee is coming off an 89-73 season, which was good for second place in the NL Central, two games behind the division-winning Cardinals.
The Brewers lost 4-3 in the Wild Card game to the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals.
However, the Milwaukee team that invades PNC Park for this week’s three-game set will have some new faces. Gone are a number of players, including catcher Yasmani Grandal, first baseman Eric Thames, infielder Mike Moustakas and pitchers Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson, Junior Guerra, Gio Gonzalez and Drew Pomeranz.
Joining the Brew Crew are left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson, outfielder Avisail Garcia and infielders Jedd Gyorko and Brock Holt, among others.
Getting the start for the Brewers in tonight’s series opener is Adrian Houser, who put together a 3.28 ERA in 12 starts after joining the Milwaukee rotation last July. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander made one start against the Pirates last year, on July 6, and the Bucs roughed him up for five earned runs and seven hits over four innings.
Steven Brault will open on the mound for the Bucs, and he is expected to piggyback with right-hander Chad Kuhl, although no official announcement has been made in that regard. Brault isn’t expected to go more than three innings in his debut.
Tuesday’s scheduled starters are Josh Lindblom for Milwaukee and Derek Holland for the Pirates, with Brandon Woodruff of the Brewers opposing Joe Musgrove for the Pirates in Wednesday’s series finale. All games are scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m.
Holland earned a nod of notoriety Sunday when he was tossed from the game while sitting in the stands. He is believed to be the first player ejected from a game before ever appearing in a game for a team in at least the last 20 years.
Lindblom actually spent some time in a Pirate uniform in 2017, appearing in four games and fashioning a 7.84 earned run average. In 10 1/3 innings, he gave up 18 hits and nine earned runs. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO and last year put together a 20-3 record with a 2.50 ERA with Doosan.
Woodruff was Milwaukee’s Opening Day starter and took the loss, giving up a two-run homer to the Cubs’ Ian Happ in the process. Musgrove started for the Pirates in Friday’s season opener, striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings and taking the loss.
One face that Pirates fans should expect to see soon is that of right fielder Gregory Polanco, who has been cleared to resume working out. There’s no definitive word on when Polanco will be activated, but it could be within the next two or three days.