Pitchers: Juan Nicasio (3-3, 4.34) goes opposite Aaron Blair (1-0, 3.54). Juan is still kinda feeling his way around in his return to the rotation. Four of his seven starts have lasted six innings+ with two walks or less and resulted in wins for him or the team. The other three have not only been short, but marked by three or more walks and were losses. Not too hard to tell if he's on. Blair, 23, is a highly touted rookie making his first start against Pittsburgh. He throws a fastball, change, curve combo and likes to attack hitters, although he has walked 11 in his 20 MLB innings.
|JHK batting cleanup tonight (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)|
Lineup: John Jaso 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco LF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Matt Joyce RF, Josh Harrison 2B, Jordy SS, Nicasio P. JHK deservedly moves into cleanup; looks like a pretty potent lineup. Amazing how much stronger the Bucco bench has been this season, especially with Kang back in the fold.
We'll see what kind of response the Braves have in reaction to Fredi Gonzalez's firing, largely overlooked in the hubbub surrounding Fran's extension. Players often find some extra motivation when a new set of eyes are watching.
- The Pirates and Fran Cervelli (see post below) have agreed to a three year contract extension, first reported by Yahoo's Jeff Passan. It's for $31M and doesn't include an option. Several sources posted that the contract is worth $9M in 2017, $10.5M in 2018 and $11.5M in 2019. The Pirates looked pretty set everywhere but a catcher going down the road, especially with Elias Diaz' elbow woes. It's a solid deal; Fran left a few dollars and maybe a year or two on the table by skipping free agency. If you recall, during the off season, the slash floated to reup Cervelli was three years/$39M.
- The Braves have fired manager Fredi Gonzalez and named Brian Snitker, who had been the Bravos AAA Gwinnett manager since 2014 and a member of the Atlanta organization for 40 years, as the interim manager.