clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

New York Yankees @ Pittsburgh Pirates: Gerrit Cole vs. Johan Oviedo

For the first time, the Yankees’ ace returns to the city that put him on the map.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Pittsburgh Pirates
A younger Cole
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The final stretch of the Yankees’ doomed 2023 season rumbles along, but even though they’re playing the sub-.500 Pirates tonight, it will still be one to watch. Gerrit Cole appears to be the American League Cy Young Award frontrunner, and he probably only has about four starts to solidify his case. It seems like all he really needs to do is hold serve with a few solid-to-strong outings, no ugly blow-ups, and it will be his to lose.

If Cole does earn the honor, it will be a long-awaited first in what has to be one of the best modern careers without one to date. He’s finished in the top five of voting on five separate occasions, and the first came in 2015 with the very team he’ll face tonight: the Pirates.

After spurning the Yankees in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft, Cole went to UCLA, became an even better prospect, and was nabbed first overall by the 2011 Pirates. Two years later, he was a pivotal rookie on the club that broke Pittsburgh’s 21-year playoff drought with a Wild Card berth in 2013. Those Andrew McCutchen-led teams didn’t get enough support from ownership though and never made it past the NLDS. By the time that Cole was traded in the 2017-18 offseason, the mini-Bucs renaissance had ended, and as it turned out, the Pirates weren’t using Cole correctly despite his commendable work. He went to Houston, ditched the two-seam, pitch-to-contact approach, and the rest is history.

Cole might be the enemy now, but somewhat surprisingly, tonight marks the first time he’s returned to PNC Park since being dealt away. He’s only faced them once, in 2019 during an Astros/Pirates game in Houston. I think he’ll probably at least get a nice hand since Cole has never said anything bad about his time in the Steel City and is proud of his role on the only good Bucs teams since the days of Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke.

On the other side, Johan Oviedo will look to play spoiler in this feel-good story. The 25-year-old righty has been a steady, solid acquisition from the Cardinals at last year’s Trade Deadline. In 29 starts, he has a 4.34 ERA, 4.41 FIP, and 1.34 WHIP. He spun a two-hit shutout against the Royals a couple weeks ago for the first complete game of his career, but most of his past month of play has been rough otherwise.

Ben Rortvedt will be the Yankees’ third different starter behind the plate in the last two days, as Cole sticks with him in his Cy Young quest. Other than that, the lineup’s fairly normal, though Everson Pereira sits again as he battles a tough slump. Keep an eye on Oswald Peraza, who has really been hitting well of late though.

Go Yankees, go baseball, and Happy Roberto Clemente Day.

How to watch

Location: PNC Park — Pittsburgh, PA

First pitch: 6:35 pm ET

TV broadcast: YES — NYY, AT&T SportsNet — PIT, MLB Network (out-of-market only)

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280 / WEEI 93.7

Online stream:

For updates, follow us on X and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.