Pirates face former prospect, Yankees ace in opener

Not only will the Pittsburgh Pirates play host to the top team in baseball, but they will also see an old friend or two when the New York Yankees come to visit for games.

Yankees right-handed Jameson Taillon (9-1, 3.32 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday against Pittsburgh left-handed Jose Quintana (1-4, 3.43 ERA). In addition, the Pirates could see New York closer Clay Holmes (4-0, 0.49 ERA, 15 saves).

Taillon and Holmes began their careers at Pittsburgh, and both have the kind of success the Pirates once hoped or even expected with their original team.

Taillon, 30, was considered a top prospect and candidate to anchor the Pittsburgh rotation. Two Tommy John surgeries and a battle with testicular cancer were some of the setbacks that prevented this from happening before the Yankees bought him for pitchers in January 2021. Roansy Contreras and Miguel Yajure, outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba and infielder Maikol Escotto.

Holmes, 29, never got on track with the Pirates, who traded him to the Yankees nearly a year ago after he went 5-7 with a 5.57 ERA in 91 appearances with Pittsburgh.

Both certainly blossomed with the Yankees.

“Clay looks pretty dominant there and (Taillon) is doing really well this year. We have to bring it to them,” Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

And try to make sure the opposite doesn’t happen.

“I hope (Holmes) and (Taillon) don’t get the ball right when they get here. Then, when they leave, I hope they throw great,” said Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton, whose team is coming off a four-game streak against Milwaukee.

Prior to that series, the Pirates had lost five out of six and with 15 games under .500, they don’t look like a strong game for the Yankees.

Both teams had a day off on Monday. For the Yankees, it was their first day off after a 20-day stint. They were 14-6 in that period.

“It was a tough journey — some tough trips, in the middle of the night, day games after night games,” said New York manager Aaron Boone. “I thought we played well through it.”

During that stretch, the Yankees defeated Tampa Bay, won a series against Toronto, won a rematch series against Tampa Bay, split a series against Houston, defeated Oakland and lost a makeup game against Houston before winning a series against Cleveland.

“We play well, especially all those days in a row”, New York pitcher Jordan Montgomery said. “The competition we’ve faced has been incredible, so to come out (14-6), that’s pretty good.”

Taillon wins against Oakland on Wednesday, when he gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings, striking out six and walking two. This will be his first appearance against his former team.

Quintana is 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA in six career games (five starts) against the Yankees.

He comes from a no-decision last Tuesday when he gave up one run in six innings, striking out six and walking two, against Washington.

Pirates face former prospect, Yankees ace in opener originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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