Phillies, Pirates open 2012 season with afternoon game in Pittsburgh
First pitch: 1:35 p.m.
TV: PHL 17
Radio: 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP
Pitching Probables: Erick Bedard (Season debut) vs. Roy Halladay (Season debut)
The Philadelphia Phillies will look to buck the trend of playing poorly in Pittsburgh. Is there a better way to try and start on the right foot than by sending Roy Halladay to the mound?
Halladay will open his third season with the Phillies the same way he has the past two, by serving as the team's Opening Day starter. In fact, this will be the tenth consecutive time Halladay has started an opening day, dating back to his time with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The big story for the Phillies will be on offense, which will have to find ways to produce runs without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. That will place a little more pressure on guys like Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. Pence will be counted on to provide the power in the line-up for as long as Howard is out, but John Mayberry Jr. will be a player counted on to bring some pop from time to time as well.
A healthy Placido Polanco could help alleviate some of the pressure on the heavy-hitters if he can bring his careful and patient bat on a regular basis. Carlos Ruiz is also coming off a strong spring training and will hope to carry some of that production in to the regular season after hitting the ball hard for the past month.
The Pittsburgh Pirates got off to a good start last season but ran out of steam in the final months. It has been 19 years since the Pirates had a winning season, but signs may be trending upward for the western-Pennsylvania franchise. All-star center fielder Andrew McCutchen is one of the top players in the NL Central and a batch of veteran players were brought in to the organization in the off-season to help keep the Pirates from a lull as the season progresses.
The Pirates will have o go with Erik Bedard for their season opener, with top options A.J. Burnett and Charlie Morton starting the season on the disabled list. Bedard was 5-9 with a 3.62 ERA last season with Seattle and Boston after sitting out the 2010 season with a shoulder injury. He is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA against the Phillies in three starts (last faced in 2006).
Around the NL East
New York Mets vs. Atlanta Braves, 1:10 p.m.: Johan Santana returns to the pitching mound in the season opener at Citi Field between the Mets and Braves. New York will look to produce some run support for their ace, while Atlanta will counter with Tommy Hanson. Santana is just 3-6 in his career against Atlanta but he has a 2.28 ERA in 12 games against the Braves. Hanson is 3-3 against the Mets with a 3.69 ERA in seven career games.
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals, 2:20 p.m.: Stephen Strasburg is back as well, as the Washington Nationals look to get off to a good start in Wrigley Field in Chicago. Strasburg picked up a win with six innings pitched and 10 strikeouts in his last spring outing. Strasburg had 116 strikeouts in 17 career games before being shut down with an injury in 2011 early on.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Miami Marlins, 4:05 p.m.: After losing the first game in Marlins Park history Wednesday night (4-1 vs. St. Louis), the new-look Miami Marlins head to the Queen City for the Cincinnati Reds' home opener. Mark Buehrle will make his Marlins regular-season debut against a team he has dominated in two career games. Buehrle is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA and just one walk against the Reds. Cincinnati will open with Johnny Cueto on the mound. Cueto is 1-0 with a 5.63 lifetime ERA against the Marlins.
NL East Standings