Tarp covers the infield at Bush Stadium after Major League Baseball cancelled Game 6 in St. Louis

After the rain: Lewis and Garcia set for Game 6 pitchers’ duel

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Last night’s rainout in St. Louis could dramatically change the pitching plans for Game 7, but the Cardinals will have to get there first by winning tonight’s Colby Lewis-Jaime Garcia matchup.

They faced off in Game 2, combining for 13.2 innings of one-run ball. Garcia exited after seven shutout innings with a 1-0 lead, but the Rangers scored two runs in the ninth inning off Jason Motte to grab the victory.

Lewis has been excellent for the Rangers nearly every time out in the playoffs, both this season and last season, combining to make seven postseason starts with a 2.22 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 45 innings. Texas is 5-2 in those seven games and Lewis allowed more than two runs just once, coughing up four runs to the Tigers in Game 3 of the ALCS.

Garcia’s postseason track record is limited to four starts this year and his performance has been a mixed bag. He turned in a stinker against the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLCS and was yanked early in Game 5 of that series, but also tossed a Quality Start versus the Phillies in Game 3 of the NLDS and shut out the Rangers for seven frames in his last appearance.

On paper at least it looks like a pitchers’ duel and a very close matchup, with the gamblings odds pegging the Cardinals as slight favorites at home. Clear skies are expected for tonight (and tomorrow night) and like four of the first five games in the series Lewis vs. Garcia looks likely to be another tight, low-scoring game that may come down to the fully rested relievers. Hopefully the Cardinals’ bullpen phone is working.

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.