PITTSBURGH — There have been 49 Major League Baseball amateur drafts, and of the 49 players selected with the No. 1 overall pick, only 16 have been pitchers. And two of those 16 pitchers (Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole) will be on the mound tonight at PNC Park, squaring off against each other.
It’s only the second head-to-head matchup of No. 1 picks in the last decade — Kris Benson faced Paul Wilson in 2005, David Price faced Luke Hochevar in 2012 — and this one features not only two No. 1 overall draft picks, but two right-handers who grew up in Southern California, have fastballs capable of reaching triple digits and were paid really good money before ever throwing a pitch as a professional ballplayer.
The Nationals, who as you know have been struggling to score runs, will take a crack at Cole tonight with a lineup nearly identical to last night. The only change: Danny Espinosa is back at second base, with Anthony Rendon shifting back to third base and Zach Walters on the bench. Otherwise, this is the group that will have to someone put together enough runs to win a ballgame and avoid falling below the .500 mark.