Saturday was another great day for Wandy Rodriguez in what has been a great spring for the Pittsburgh Pirates lefty. He took the mound for the Dominican Republic in a World Baseball Classic game against Puerto Rico and dominated. He tossed six shutout innings allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out four. That performance was just another reason why Rodriguez should be named the starter for the Pirates when they open the season on Monday, Apr. 1 against the Chicago Cubs.
Coming into spring training, the number one starter job belonged to A.J. Burnett. He was given the job back in February after a solid bounce back season in 2012. Unfortunately he has bungled his way through his first three starts and looks completely lost on the mound once again. Manager Clint Hurdle should just say ‘oops, my bad’, revoke the honor bestowed upon Burnett and make it an open competition. Maybe that would make Burnett hungry and he would get his noggin out of his proverbial backside.
Rodriguez has been the polar opposite of Burnett. He has pitched four games this spring, two for the Pirates and two in the WBC, and has been impressive in all four. Having such a solid spring should be rewarded. It isn’t like Burnett is Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw, instead he is just a guy that has averaged about ten wins per season in his 14 year career, which is good but far from dominant.
Of course Hurdle tied his own hands by announcing his decision so early in the game. Now if he were to make the right move and name Rodriguez the opening day starter Burnett would probably pout for three months. So we are stuck with Burnett on opening day.