Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (3-4, 3.25) closes the set against Mike Leake (9-9, 4.56). In seven of his last 10 appearances, JT has given up two or fewer runs and only once failed to register a quality start. This will be his first outing against the Redbirds. Leake is fresh off the 15-day DL, returning from a surely painful case of shingles/staph and bumping hot shot rookie Alex Reyes to the pen. He wasn't all that before the rash hit, posting a 5.71 ERA over his last seven starts, but the Cards like a veteran dealer down the stretch, and his xFIP is 3.73, so he's run into some bad bounces, too. Leake is 1-2, 5.71 v Pittsburgh this year, giving up 11 earned runs on 22 hits in 17-1/3 IP.
|Jamo takes the hill tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Lineup: Josh Harrison 2B, David Freese 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polonco LF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Matt Joyce RF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy SS, Jamo P. Why the slumping Freeser? Maybe because he has a .520 BA lifetime against Mike Leake. As for the rest, the outfield shuffle is because Starling has a grumpy back and the rest is the same ol'.
- Starling wasn't out for R&R reasons yesterday (our bad); he had back spasms. he's out tonight and is day-to-day. Neftali couldn't soft toss on consecutive afternoons, so his down time is TBD. And Elias Diaz is done for the year as he needed a medical procedure to counter his cellulitis, a bacterial leg infection. On the other hand, Fran is back after having a blood blister drained under his thumbnail yesterday.
- BTW, don't shed too many tears over the Mark Melancon trade. The only bad part was the timing; maybe if they moved him during the preseason, the back end of the bullpen would be configured by now. In all, the FO did get a decent-looking return, and while The Shark may have saved two wins since his deadline departure in games that Tony couldn't close out and the Bucs lost, most of the relief issues have been getting to the ninth, not finishing the game. But for sure, his departure and Watson's performance leaves a wide-open race for the closer spot going forward.
- Today is MLB's 15th annual Roberto Clemente Day, established to honor the legacy of the Pirates' outfielder. Clubs playing at home will recognize their local nominees as part of the ceremonies, and the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and lineup cards while a video tribute to the Great One will be played in all the ballparks. His family joined with Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to celebrate; the politicos declared this "Roberto Clemente Day" in Pittsburgh & Allegheny County.