An 8-1 home stand makes one wish the Yankees never had to play on the road at all, but a weekend series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at the spectacular PNC Park is a good consolation. It will be the first time the Yankees visit what I consider to be the best park in baseball since 2008.
The Pirates enter the season 6-9, tied for fourth in the NL Central. The Pirates have had an interesting pattern of play this season, being swept by the Red Sox, then sweeping the Braves, losing three straight to the Reds, sweeping the Cubs, and being swept by the Cardinals this week. The Yankees will look to break this pattern and keep their hot start going.
Game one, Friday night at 7:05pm, will see CC Sabathia take on Tyler Glasnow, the Pirates’ rookie with rather high expectations. We all know how well CC has performed this year, where Glasnow has had a disappointing start to the season, although he was able to strike out seven Cubs last Saturday. Glasnow’s excellent fastball and downward plane should make for an interesting match against the home run happy Yankee offense.
Saturday’s 4:05pm afternoon matchup has Michael Pineda and Jameson Taillon tabbed for their fourth starts of the year. Taillon has been nothing but terrific, posting a 0.90 ERA in 20 IP so far in 2017. As far as Pineda, well, let’s hope he can be Good Mike for three starts in a row.
The finale on Sunday goes at 1:35pm. Yankee legend Ivan Nova faces his former team for the first time, while Jordan Montgomery counters for the Yankees. Nova has been good (??) for the Pirates, but hopefully does his old friends a favor and helps New York out on the away day.
3 things to watch for:
1. Aaron and the Allegheny. 440 feet from home plate, down the right field line, lies the Allegheny river. Three players have hit the river with a home run “on the fly”, and while I don’t think Aaron Judge is quite strong enough to hit a baseball that far right down the line, if any right-handed hitter could do it, it’d be the man who did this:
I have no words to describe this Aaron Judge bomb. #Yankees pic.twitter.com/P13FeVHnRd— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) April 20, 2017
2. Matt Holliday. Speaking of grossly strong baseball players, Holliday of course has the most ABs of any Yankee at PNC Park. Despite PNC being a well-known hitter-friendly environment, Holliday owns a career .824 OPS in Pittsburgh, 73 points below his career average. Knowing this might make the sit-or-start decision easier for Joe Girardi, as the Yankees will lose the DH, and if Holliday doesn’t hit particularly well at PNC, it may be best to keep him out of the defensive rotation and the lineup for the weekend.
3. The Pirates’ outfield. Starling Marte tested positive for Nandrolone earlier this week and was hit with an 80-game suspension as a first-time offense under the Joint Drug Agreement. This leaves a huge hole in both the lineup and defensive options for the Pirates. It’s likely we’ll see Andrew McCutchen back in his old home in center field, although his horrific defensive season in 2016 may turn that into a serious disadvantage for the Bucs.
Pittsburgh isn’t that far from New York, New Jersey, and many other places. If you feel like a weekend drive, you can score some tickets for this series through our partners, StubHub. Enjoy interleague baseball!