The Home Opener. Here we are on July 27th, and we’re talking about the home opener. Its another casualty of 2020, and the typical buzz on Federal Street won’t come. The traditions of kids and parents, cotton candy and hot dogs won’t be back just yet but at least we will have baseball.
The Brewers have started the season in the same fashion as the Pirates dropping 2 of their first 3. In fact, almost the same pattern, a close loss, a nice win and blowout loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Tonight will feature Adrian Houser for the Brew Crew vs Steven Brault (followed by Chad Kuhl) in a piggyback start.
The similarities aren’t just about the record, the Brewers biggest questions reside in their pitching and the team’s best hitters, Yelich and Hiura, have started 2 for 25. The Pirates have seen similar results from Bryan Reynolds and Adam Frazier in the heart of their own order and we all know the pitching is a question despite the hopeful performance of the series finale against the Cards.
If indeed the Pirates are going to make anything of this season it will have to be at least partially built on the backs of clubs in similar situations to their own. These are not the Brewers of 2018 who fell just short, instead they are a team building around a core highlighted by quite possibly the game’s very best player Christian Yelich. They’ll hit, but pitching is going to be a question most of the year.
The similarities don’t end there for these clubs as Milwaukee has seen some of their best pitching from traditional starters coming out of the bullpen. Eric Lauer in particular will make a push to join the rotation and Brett Anderson who missed his scheduled start on Saturday as he landed on the IL with a blister is likely to find a spot as well.
Every injury no matter how insignificant to a pitcher in this shortened season will be magnified. Anderson is one of the few pitchers the Brewers had as a lock to start and when you pile a minimum of 10 days of no throwing on top of already not being stretched it becomes a question of how far into this do they get without being able to count on him to deliver what they expected.
Back to the Pirates, they’ll finish the series with Derek Holland and back to Joe Musgrove for his second start of the young season. Holland may do well, but let’s be honest, not much is expected and despite what we’ve seen he is ripe for being an odd man out of the rotation when rosters condense. J.T. Brubaker had a strong showing in relief and so did Clay Holmes, each are starters by trade and could make a push to upturn the apple cart. This doesn’t even factor in Brault or Kuhl grabbing the attention of Shelton for starting time themselves, breaking free of the piggyback role to stake their claim individually.
I’d say this series is big but really, aren’t they all? Tonight at 7:05 PNC Park will have baseball, rivalry, and importance, three ingredients that are no guarantee on July 27th in Pittsburgh. Enjoy folks.