The Pittsburgh Pirates had an ugly showing in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. For a team that hasn’t been in the playoffs in a couple of decades, they certainly looked like it in the Game 1 trouncing.
In a short series like the NLDS, they’ll need to rebound and it’ll need to be a fast one. One of the best teams in baseball during the regular season, the Pirates have showed that they can do it. Heading into Game 2, they’ll be leaning on a rookie to get them back into the series.
As we approached the postseason a few weeks ago, there was talk of the Pirates using Gerrit Cole out of the bullpen. With a deep rotation, and an unwillingness to tax the arm of their young hurler, it would have been a move that made plenty of sense. But, alas, Cole got the nod for Game 2.
Cole started 19 games during the regular season for the Pirates, with a major buzz surrounding his initial recall. One thing he has shown is an ability to not only live up to the hype, but to handle that type of pressure well. Even with all of the commotion surrounding this team, he’s remained a figure of calm for the Bucs.
His numbers in his first year in the big leagues were very good. He pitched to a 3.22 ERA in those 19 starts, striking out an even 100 batters in a touch over 117 innings, with 28 walks. He’s gotten better as the year has worn on, with his September proving particularly dominant, where he pitched to a 1.69 ERA, which no doubt helped him earn that rotation spot for the playoffs.
If Cole comes up short in his postseason debut, it’ll spell big trouble for the Pirates. Already in a one game hole, you don’t ever want to go down 2-0, let alone in a five-game series. The rookie will need to come up huge for the Bucs in Game 2, and he has the stuff to do it.