In nine of his 11 starts since coming off the DL, Frankie has given up two or fewer runs. He's struck out 63 in the last 59 innings of that span and his ERA has dropped from 4.60 to 3.91. Liriano is 2-4 during that stretch. So talk all you want about the powerful Bucco attack; they might as well be playing whiffleball when Fransisco is on the hill.
He's seen the Cubbies twice this year. He beat them 1-0 in April, then had a no-decision in June, leaving that game early and ending up on the DL. In his career, he's 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA in eight starts with good peripherals.
The 26-year-old Doubront was acquired from the BoSox in July where he was 26-22 with three saves and a 4.82 ERA in 98 MLB outings, mostly as a starter. He was just recalled by the Cubs from the DL last week and had a strong outing against the Cards in his Windy City debut, winning 5-1.
The Venezuelan has a strong pedigree: he was the 2010 Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year and in 2012, his first full season in the show, Doubront led Beantown in strikeouts (167) and tied for the team lead in wins (11). Last season, he picked up a World Series victory (in relief). So he may be a little anonymous to Bucco fans but has a bona-fide resume.
He throws a four seamer, cutter, sinker and curve, topping out at 89 MPH. The knock on him is that his pitches don't have much seperation in speed, but he's a soft-tossing lefty, and that's usually enough to guarantee the Buc batters a long day in the box.
The Lineup: Starling Marte LF, Jordy Mercer SS, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Jose Tabata RF, Brent Morel 3B, Chris Stewart C and Liriano P. Josh is out; he had been nursing a sore ankle for a month before today's twist, and Russ finally gets a rest.
The game will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
- Lovin' the Lefties: Josh Harrison is hitting .330 v southpaws; too bad he'll be sitting this one out. We don't expect an injury update until at least after this game.
- Streaks: The Pirates snapped a four-game losing streak earlier in the day and a six-game Cubby win streak at Wrigley. Pittsburgh is now 10-4 on the season against the Cubs, the only NL Central team they have a winning mark against.
- The Race: Going into this game, the Pirates are are 4-1/2 games out of NL Central lead and 1-1/2 games out of the second wild card spot.