Welcome to the show: Inside Cole's debut

June, 11, 2013
6/11/13
11:23
AM ET
The Pittsburgh Pirates will unleash one of baseball's most promising prospects as former No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole takes the mound on Tuesday night against the San Francisco Giants.

Here's a look at some of the key stats to know about tonight's matchup.

The History
Cole is the third right-handed pitcher to be drafted No. 1 overall by the Pirates (Kris Benson and Bryan Bullington). No other team has drafted more than one right-hander No. 1 overall.

Bullington rates as one of the least successful No. 1 picks ever. Of the No. 1 overall picks to reach the majors prior to Cole, Bullington has the fewest big-league wins (1).

The Pirates haven’t had a starting pitcher win his major-league debut since Paul Maholm against the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005. The last nine Pirates starters to make their debut are a combined 0-4 with five no-decisions. The nine-start streak is the longest for any team.

Maholm is the only one to win since the start of the 2002 season.

Inside the Matchup
Among the challenges that Cole will face.

Giants catcher Buster Posey is hitting .328 with a .920 OPS in his last 32 games, and enters with 10 hits in his last 28 at-bats.

What to watch for: Posey’s recent history against right-handed pitchers is that he thrives when they throw him a fastball inside. His .367 in at-bats that end with fastballs/sinkers/cutters on the inner-half of the plate or just off the outside corner, ranks 15th-best in the majors since the start of 2012.

Second baseman Marco Scutaro is hitting .405 with eight walks and only three strikeouts in his last 26 games. He enters ninth in the majors in hitting with a .332 batting average.

What to watch for: Scutaro entered Monday ranked fourth in the majors in batting average with two strikes, .311.

Right fielder Hunter Pence is hitting .316 with 21 extra-base hits in his last 35 games.

What to watch for: Pence has been aggressive on the basepaths recently, with 12 steals and no caught stealing this season. Keeping runners close has been an issue for Cole in 2013. In Triple-A, he allowed 16 stolen bases in 17 attempts.

Cole’s rival moundsman will be Tim Lincecum, who is coming off one of his best starts of the season—seven innings, one run, three hits, with six strikeouts against the Blue Jays.

What to watch for: Pirates slugger Andrew McCutchen is 1-for-12 against Lincecum, one of six pitchers against whom he has 10 ore more at-bats and a sub-.100 batting average. The others: Roy Oswalt, Matt Cain, Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood, and Roy Halladay

The last 3 No. 1 picks to debut
Here's a look at the last 3 No. 1 picks to make their MLB debut

David Price (September 14, 2008 vs Yankees)
Price made his MLB debut a little more than a year after being selected No. 1, pitching 5 1/3 innings of relief and allowing 2 runs in a loss to the Yankees.

Later that season, Price would be pitching in a pretty important spot-- closing out the Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS.

Stephen Strasburg (June 8, 2010 vs Pirates)
Strasburg had an electrifying debut against the Pirates, striking out 14 in 7 IP, one shy of the record for strikeouts in a debut.

Bryce Harper (April 28, 2012 at Dodgers)
Harper went 1-for-3 with a double and RBI in his debut against the Dodgers. Harper was the 4th teenager since 1969 to get an extra-base hit in his major-league debut-- the other 3: Ken Griffey Jr., Adrian Beltre, and Jose Reyes.

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