For the third straight season the Pirates will go with left-hander Francisco Liriano as their Opening Day starter, which is noteworthy because it means right-hander Gerrit Cole will not get the Opening Day nod following a season in which he finished fourth in the Cy Young balloting.
However, with Cole recovering from an offseason rib cage injury the Pirates don’t want to rush his timetable and manager Clint Hurdle told Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that “it wouldn’t be fair to him to try and push that deadline date on him.”
Cole has yet to make his spring training debut, but the Pirates are hoping he’ll be stretched out to around the 100-pitch mark shortly after Opening Day. And of course Liriano is certainly deserving too. He has a 3.26 ERA with 543 strikeouts in 510 innings since signing with the Pirates in 2013, including a 3.38 ERA and 205 strikeouts in 187 innings last season.