DETROIT -- The anticipation for Brad Lincoln's PNC Park debut began the day the Pirates took the then-21-year-old right-hander out of the University of Houston with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Despite a surgical setback for Lincoln in 2007, that anticipation only continued to augment as Lincoln made the climb up the Minor League rungs.
Now, as the Pirates open up a six-game homestand on Tuesday, Pittsburghers can get their first in-person look at a pitcher who is expected to be a mainstay in the Pirates' rotation for years.
Lincoln made his Major League debut on the road last Wednesday, allowing five earned runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings against the Nationals. Sunday, two days before his much-anticipated home debut, Lincoln invited lofty expectations from fans.
"I hope that I can impress," said Lincoln, who hasn't been to Pittsburgh since signing in 2006. "Hopefully, they expect a lot. They should expect me to go out there and perform to the max and give them a show. For me, I'm going to treat it just like any other game and go out there, do what I do and hope to come out with a win. It will be exciting. It will probably be just like my first start."
Though Lincoln didn't dominate like rookie Stephen Strasburg had in his big league debut the night before, Lincoln's first test against a Major League club was widely seen as a success. The righty showed confidence in using his changeup in any situation, and he was able to complement his fastball by throwing breaking pitches for strikes.
Had the defense made a few more plays behind Lincoln, the Nationals likely wouldn't have scored all five of those runs, either. What lessons did Lincoln come away with?
"Hitters are a lot more disciplined up here," he answered. "They have an approach and it showed me that I've got to learn to pick my spots on when to throw different pitches and not give in."