Wednesday's thoughts – Wieters goes deep Wieters

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– The latest evidence that Trey Hillman is a joke as a major league
manager: Kyle Farnsworth, who had allowed one run in eight weeks,
wasn’t the reliever of choice with the Royals down 6-2 tonight. Nor was
he the reliever of choice with the team down 7-2. No, Hillman waited
until it was 11-2 and then brought in Farnsworth to get some work. It
was his first appearance in six days.

– Chris Young is still hitting below .200 for Arizona, but he walked
three more times tonight, bringing his total of the month to 11 in 54
at-bats. He had eight in 163 at-bats between April and May. He also has
three homers and six steals in June, so I hope no one dropped him in
mixed leagues.

– Matt Wieters’ first big-league homer
didn’t look like much off the bat, but it was still nice to see him go
the other way for a change. He had been taking most everything to right
field while hitting left-handed.

– B.J. Ryan sure didn’t help his chances of seeing save
opportunities by allowing three of the four batters he faced to reach
in the ninth against the Phillies. Rather than risk the six-run lead,
the Jays opted to replace him with Brandon League, who stranded all
three runners to finish out the 7-1 game. Jason Frasor is probably
going to be the man in Toronto with Scott Downs out.

– Would it really embarrass any Reds regulars if Micah Owings hit,
say, fifth in his starts? They obviously know just how good he is, and
it’s hardly such a disadvantage to be using pinch-hitters in the middle
of the order after Owings departs. Owings, of course, hit his seventh
career homer in his second and final plate appearance tonight. He
delivered a sac bunt in the first one. I’m holding out hope that he was
actually bunting for a hit, but MLB.tv is being a real pain tonight.
Anyone see it?

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.