Major League Baseball
Mets-Pirates Preview
Major League Baseball

Mets-Pirates Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 7:05 p.m. ET

PITTSBURGH -- The legendary Satchel Paige once uttered the famous line, "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."

That might be good advice for the veterans in the Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation.

What might be gaining on the Pirates' starters are top three pitching prospects, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow and Chad Kuhl, all of whom aren't just winning at Triple-A Indianapolis but are dominating.

And Taillon, after much anticipation, is coming up to make his major league debut Wednesday night against the New York Mets -- six years and one day after being the No. 2 overall pick in the June 2010 draft. He was selected right between Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.


"We believe he's worked out," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The opportunity is his."

With the Pirates already flirting with a double-digit deficit in the NL Central, and looking more realistically at a wild card -- sounds familiar, huh? -- the other two top-tier prospects might not be that far away from moving into Pittsburgh's rotation.

Especially with right-hander Juan Nicasio (5-4) and left-hander Francisco Liriano (4-5) struggling of late in the rotation. Liriano didn't make it out of the of the fourth inning during a 9-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, giving up six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. He is 3-4 in his past seven starts.

Trying to get the lefty straightened out, Hurdle will move back Liriano's next start -- scheduled for Wednesday -- to Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nicasio made his best start in more than a month Tuesday night, limiting the Mets to one run over five innings in a 3-1 Pirates victory in the nightcap of a doubleheader that Pittsburgh swept. That effort followed four starts in which he allowed at least three earned runs in each.

Taillon is an intriguing prospect -- some major league scouts are high on him, others are less excited -- whose path to the majors was delayed by Tommy John surgery in April 2014 and hernia surgery in July 2015.

"As a young 18-year-old (being drafted), I didn't think this is probably the path I saw myself taking, when you're young and naive," Taillon said of his rather slow ascent to the majors. "But it's my journey and my path, and it's kind of what I've had dealt for me. It's made it sweeter (to get to the majors).

This season, Taillon was 4-2 with a 2.04 ERA for Triple-A Indianapolis, with 61 strikeouts and six walks in 61 1/3 innings. He was in Columbus, Ohio, with his team, watching Netflix, when Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor informed him he was going to Pittsburgh.

"I kind of blacked out from adrenaline," Taillon said.

While Hurdle isn't committing to more than one start for Taillon, the right-hander is visibly excited about being called up. He posted a Twitter message relating how, as a youngster, he practiced signing his autograph in anticipation of being a big-leaguer.

Taillon will oppose one of the majors' top starters, Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard (6-2, 1.91 ERA), who gave up two runs and six hits over seven innings in his last start -- a 6-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Friday. Syndergaard has struck out eight or more in seven of his 11 starts, and his ERA trails only those of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (1.46) and the Chicago Cubs' Jake Arrieta (1.80) among qualified major league starters.

Syndergaard has opposed the Pirates only once, giving up four runs -- one earned -- and six hits over six innings on May 22, 2015, at PNC Park. He is 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA in five road starts this season.

The Mets are scrounging for runs, getting only one each in their last three games -- losses by 1-0 to the Marlins and 3-1 and 3-1 to the Pirates.

"There's no instant fix or (way to) scramble the lineup," New York manager Terry Collins said. "It's a total package ... but we've got some guys struggling."

Mets second baseman Neil Walker went 1-for-4 in both games of a doubleheader Tuesday in Pittsburgh, his hometown and the city where played for six seasons before being traded to New York in December.

"It's a case where we just have to keep grinding and throwing up good at-bats," Walker said. "If we do that, things will eventually change because there is too much talent in this lineup for us not to produce."


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