The Pirates have lost four straight games and would not have a spot in the playoffs if the regular season ended today, but a big boost is coming this week.
Tom Singer of MLB.com reports that right-hander Gerrit Cole is due back from the disabled list on Wednesday and will start for the Bucs in their series-finale that night against the visiting Braves. He will be taking over the rotation spot left vacant by Charlie Morton, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday morning with inflammation in his right hip.
Cole has been out since early July because of a lat injury. He experienced a few setbacks along the way, but the young starter tossed seven scoreless innings in a rehab outing at Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday night and six scoreless frames for Indianapolis last Sunday.
The 23-year-old former first overall pick owns a 3.46 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 33 career major league starts.
The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.
A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.
Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.
The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.
Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.