The lineup: Brock Holt 2b, Starling Marte LF, Andrew McCutchen CF, Garrett Jones RF, Gaby Sanchez 1b, Michael McKenry C, Pedro Alvarez 3b, Clint Barmes SS, James McDonald P.
This is a big series - aren't they all? - because the Cards and Dodgers are going head-to-head while Pittsburgh is in Chicago, so there's an opp to make up a step or two in the chase, plus stay ahead of a hard-charging field. As the Bucs have discovered lately, overlooking teams doesn't cut it, and Chicago is a much better club at home than on the road.
- The Super Two cutoff this year is predicted to be at 2 years, 139 days. Neil Walker is the only Pirate player to make the cutoff. But he was always on track to be a Super Two player because of his May 2010 call-up date, so the Bucs should have his raise budgeted if a contract isn't in the offing yet.
- Not too surprisingly, Rod Barajas, who has a $3.5M team option with no buyout for next season, says he's willing to talk turkey with the Bucs for a new, lesser deal. Funny how batting .197 will do that.
- The Pirates have lost six in a row, while the Cubs have taken 5-of-6
- The Pirates are three games behind St. Louis and one behind LA in the race for the last wildcard. And don't look back; the Brewers are within 1/2 game, Philadelphia a full game and Arizona 1-1/2 games of passing Pittsburgh.
- Just about time for the Fall Instructional League. Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects has the roster, some player info and a little background on the "instructs."
- BTW, there's more than one one to shake up a team during the deadline. Philly was a seller, getting rid of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. Then they took off, playing .634 ball (26-15) ever since.