The Milwaukee Brewers are looking for their second sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates this season and will have that chance Sunday afternoon.
Steven Brault (0-1, 3.86 ERA) will face Chase Anderson (7-11, 4.92 ERA). Brault will be looking to avenge his lone career major league loss to the Brewers. That effort was the lone outing in which he pitched past the fourth inning in his three appearances with the Pirates.
Something which may provide comfort to Brault is his catcher. Chris Stewart is making his first start since July 1. He missed 49 games with left-knee discomfort and has spent the past handful of days on a minor league rehab assignment where he has caught several of the Pirates young arms.
“He’s caught a bunch of kids and he’s been working with kids,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “The last two games have been long for Cervelli, a lot of pitches, he got hit, he got dinged and he did a lot of blocking, so we’re giving him a blow. Hopefully getting Chris out there with a slow heartbeat can get Brault deeper in the game.”
Reliever usage plan benefits Pirates
During the Pirates loss Monday against the Chicago Cubs, several fans were upset with one word – unavailable.
How could so many relievers not be available for a game?
Well there is an answer for that.
“We have a program put in place when I arrived here back in 2011,” said Hurdle. “As far as touches, innings, pitches per-outing and what’s acceptable and what’s not, what will push them to back-to-back games or what could push them to three days in a row and what pushes them out. The pitcher has ownership as well, but that can take a little time to get that trust in place where they can say they need a day off.”
Though criticized at times because fans want to see the team win, this program has provided results that allow relievers to have the opportunity to have a successful outing whenever they are called upon.
Hurdle has always been transparent when stating that a particular reliever is not available but in an effort to keep that information from other teams may cease doing this in favor of keeping that answer in-house.
“We do things differently here based on the comments we get back from pitchers who have been at other places and then get here. The successes we have from it from the bullpen use of guys,” Hurdle said. “Knock on wood, the availability of guys for the six years I’ve been here and the lack of a lot of DL from the reliever stand point and usage.”
The game can change
It is rare that a baseball team does not go through peaks and valleys in just about every game played.
Take Jared Hughes in last night’s game for example. He loaded the bases in an inning of work and got down 3-0 in the count.
He then threw a pitch which was a borderline strike and then got out of the inning unscathed by getting an inning-ending double play.
On the other end, the Pirates had a mini rally stunted by a hard-hit double play. The inning appeared to be over, but instead Andrew McCutchen hit a home run tying the game.
“It’s kind of what you sign up for,” Hughes said. “As you learn and keep playing you realize that you are always still in it. If you keep attacking and competing good things are eventually going to happen. For me if I trust my defense I can get out of jams.”
1. Josh Harrison 2B
2. John Jaso 1B
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Gregory Polanco RF
5. Starling Marte LF
6. Sean Rodriguez SS
7. Adam Frazier 3B
8. Chris Stewart C
9. Steven Brault P
1. Keon Broxton CF
2. Orlando Arcia SS
3. Hernan Perez 3B
4. Chris Carter 1B
5. Domingo Santana RF
6. Manny Piña C
7. Scooter Gennett 2B
8. Jake Elmore LF
9. Chase Anderson P
Bottom of the ninth
Hurdle said that the team was not done with potential September call-ups. He stated he expected a couple more names to get the call … Gerrit Cole (right post elbow inflammation) is currently written in pencil to start the Pirates Sept. 12 road contest against the Philadelphia Phillies. He threw exclusively fastballs in a side session yesterday and Tuesday will incorporate all of his pitches in another side session. A final side session is planned for Sept. 9, and if all goes well he will pitch against the Phillies. Jung Ho Kang (left shoulder injury) will be playing in a rehab game with Triple-A Indianapolis and if all goes well, he will rejoin the Pirates tomorrow. Today’s game marks the 15th Kang has missed … There is not much to report on Neftali Feliz, who left last night’s game with right-shoulder discomfort. Hurdle reported he was feeling better today than yesterday but did not elaborate much more than that.