Frankie scattered three hits over six scoreless innings in his last start and won a 1-0 decision against the Braves, though he walked a bushel load. Since he's come off the DL, his numbers have been off the charts: Liriano has gone 6-4 with a 2.22 ERA in 14 starts since then, has allowed a total of three earned runs in his last six outings (39 IP) and is 4-0 with a 0.35 ERA in his first four starts this month. To boot, Francisco has posted a 2.17 ERA on the road this season.
With all that, he's not be very ace-like against Cincinnati. Frankie is 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA in four starts this season versus the Reds, with only one really solid game out of the bunch.
Simon has been a Bucco buddy in September, twice defeating St. Louis; his last outing was a 7-2 win against the Redbirds. The 33 year old was an inning eating middle reliever when the season opened; now he's looking like a part of the Cincy 2015 rotation.
He's 2-1/3.60 against the Bucs this year. Pittsburgh hasn't hit him very hard, but he has almost as many walks (10) as hits yielded (13) in his three Pirate starts, so a little patience sometimes goes a long way against Simon.
The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Travis Snider RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Starling Marte LF, Ike Davis 1B, Jordy Mercer SS, Chris Stewart C and Liriano P. Russ is out; we're thinking it may have been better in the long run for him to have sat out yesterday.
The game starts at 1:05 and will be aired by Fox Sports 1, Root Sports and 1020 KDKA-AM.
- The Chase: The Giants lost last night, so the Pirates have home field for the wild card sewn up. If that's how it ends, the game will be at PNC on Wednesday. The Cards won in extra innings, so Pittsburgh is still one game behind them in the NL Central title chase.
- Day of Rest: Russ is sitting today and is considered "day-to-day" with his hammy. Ike is over his flu and back in the lineup.
- Hitting Steaks: Josh has a 14-gamer and Starling is at 11 games.
- Help Wanted: Ken Rosenthal tweeted "Add Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister to list of managerial candidates that the Astros have contacted by phone."