Pitchers: Frankie opens against Jake Arrieta (12-3, 2.33). Liriano got off the schneid with a win at Oakland on Sunday, but in two starts against the Cubs this season, he's 0-2/10.45; 'nuff said. Arrieta has been human the past couple of starts, but he's owned the Bucs. Jake is 3-0 this year, giving up two runs in 22 IP. So sera, sera... The Bucs originally had Chad Kuhl slated for this outing, but maybe they thought he deserved a break after starting against Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, so they pushed him back a day.
|Frankie climbs the bump tonight (photo Pablo Martinez/AP)|
Lineup: JJ 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Freeser 3B, Starling Marte LF, Josh 2B, S-Rod SS, Erik Kratz C, Frankie P. Good to see El Coffee in the lineup; after taking a foul of the knee last night, we were curious how his leg would respond today. Jordy gets a rest day; S-Rod has only faced Jake three times (1-for-3), but Jordy has been luckless against him (1-for-13, .077 BA), so good day for a blow.
Preview: The Cubs are 8-1 against the Bucs and swept the Pirates at PNC. If you wanna hang with the big dogs, you gotta get off the porch and start snarling, so we'll see if the Pirates can make a stand before the ASB. The trends are hopeful - Pittsburgh has won 10 of its last 13 games while the Cubs are 13-18 since early June, with seven losses in eight games. This is one series the Bucs would really like to take to stamp their late June-early July run as legit.
|Josh is in the building... (photo Butch Dill/USA Today)|
- And the final piece arrives - Josh Bell will be in a Bucco uni tonite, per reports. The Pirates are giving him a weekend look, shedding a starter with the ASB coming up (Tyler Glasnow was sent down). He joins Adam Frazier, Alen Hansen, Jake Stallings, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault, Glasnow and Wilfredo Boscan (he was called up but didn't appear in a game last year) in making his MLB debut this season.
- Neil Weinberg posts in Fangraphs that the Pirates way of pitching (ie, down and in) may be the cause of Jon Niese's homer epidemic. He makes a good argument concerning the Pirates usual cookie cutter approach (although Uncle Ray didn't tinker too much with JA Happ's style last year) and that perhaps the Buccos tried to fix something that wasn't really broken.
- The media gang reports that Fran Cervelli could start his rehab as soon as this weekend at Altoona while Gerrit Cole is expected to start Sunday for Indy. Looks like the DL is about to thin out some after the ASB.
- The life of a Lobster: On Wednesday, Kyle Lobstein stepped off a plane and into the bullpen at Busch Stadium. On Thursday, he stepped off another plane to take the bump at Indianapolis' Victory Field and pitched six shutout innings for the Tribe, giving up three hits, two walks and fanning four.
- Mike "Doc" Emrick will be in the MLB Network booth with Bob Costas, broadcasting tonight's "MLBN Showcase" match for out-of-market fans.