First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. EST at PNC Park
TV Side: Root Sports Pittsburgh (locally) and ESPN (nationally)
Radio Side: KDKA-FM (93.7 The Fan)
Pitching Matchup: Mike Leake (9-9, 4.56 ERA) vs. Jameson Taillon (3-4, 3.25 ERA)
The Pittsburgh Pirates are sitting in the midst of their longest losing streak since 2011. Trying to curb its recent blunders, Pirates brass will send Jameson Taillon, who attempted to stop the skid last Friday, out to face the St. Louis Cardinals and Mike Leake.
Having Taillon, a rookie, toe the rubber could be a blessing in disguise for Pittsburgh.
Other than fellow rotation mate Ivan Nova, Taillon has been a reliable, go-to guy for the Pirates.
However it’s not all dandelions and roses on Taillon, injuries have plagued him the past two years: Tommy John Surgery and a sports hernia issue. Not to mention his short disable list spell this season. All in all, Taillon has never surpassed 150 innings in a single season; he’s already amassed 144.2 innings this season.
Pirates general manager vows up and down that Taillon doesn’t have a strict innings limit going forward, but he assures us that he will certainly be monitored daily.
Something also pointing towards Taillon’s maturity is his willingness to be shut down, if needed.
“I feel great, but I’ve never pitched in September and I’m aware of that,” Taillon told the media. “With that being said, I’m just going to be smart and be aware. I’m not going to overwork it.”
Taillon’s last outing was certainly worthy of ending the Pirates three-game slide — six innings of three-hit, one-run ball.
It will be Taillon’s first career start versus the Cardinals, a team Pittsburgh sits 5.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot.
His mound opponent, Leake, coming off a bout with shingles, has formidable career figures against the Pirates — 9-5 W-L record and a 3.28 ERA in 172.2 innings — though he’s even better at PNC Park, producing an ERA under three.
|Cardinals Lineup||Pirates Lineup|
|Matt Carpenter 2B||Josh Harrison 2B|
|Stephen Piscotty RF||David Freese 1B|
|Matt Adams 1B||Andrew McCutchen CF|
|Yadier Molina C||Gregory Polanco LF|
|Brandon Moss LF||Jung-Ho Kang 3B|
|Randal Grichuk||Matt Joyce RF|
|Jhonny Peralta 3B||Francisco Cervelli C|
|Greg Garcia SS||Jordy Mercer SS|
|Mike Leake P||Jameson Taillon P|
- It may be surprising to see David Freese in the lineup instead of Josh Bell, but there’s one glaring statistic adding validity to the move: Freese’s .520 career average opposing Leake.
- Hurdle remains reluctant to go one way or the other on Watson’s closer status: “I’ve been in this situation before where I’ve done it both ways: stuck with a guy and unplugged a guy.” Time will tell if Watson continues getting the ball in the ninth.
- No Marte tonight (back spasms).
- Francisco Cervelli (left thumb) back in the lineup following sitting out for Chris Stewart.
- Taillon has a 2.41 ERA in nine starts after a team loss.
- Jung Ho Kang looked like the Kang of old in last night’s affair. Look for him to continue this success tonight, he has a .429 average off Leake.
- Pirates killer Matt Carpenter, after hitting the big tying home run off Watson last night, and Stephen Piscotty have been reinserted into the lineup.
Cole showing progress
Manager Clint Hurdle announced Sunday that the team’s plan is for Cole to return September 12 against Philadelphia. More information regarding his situation has since been released.
There seems to be some things Pirates trainer Todd Tomczyk identified that could cut Cole’s chance of injury, via Travis Sawchik’s Twitter page.
“We will have an all-systems attack on how we’re going to discuss his kinetic-chain issues,” Tomczyk tell Sawchik.
Nothing else has been said about pushing Cole further.
Out for the year: Elias Diaz
Elias Diaz has been a man with poor luck in 2016.
Earlier this year, Diaz missed time due to elbow surgery and now an infection will end his season.
Doctors found an infection on Diaz’s leg this week. Originally, he had a procedure done to clean out the infected area, though it must not have been enough.
With a catcher situation potentially in question next fall — mostly because of Cervelli being injury prone — expect him to be extremely competitive.
Joe Cinello contributes to and owns the Pittsburgh Sports Castle. Connect with him on Facebook (Joey Cinello), Linkedin (Joseph Cinello) and Twitter (jcin13).