Gerrit Cole to return to Pirates’ rotation Wednesday

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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.

Alex Wood to try pitching out of the stretch

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Pedro Moura of The Athletic reports that Dodgers starter Alex Wood plans to pitch out of the stretch throughout the 2018 season. Wood got the idea when he watched Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg pitch against the Dodgers.

Wood, 27, finished last season 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and a 151/38 K/BB ratio in 152 1/3 innings. That’s a mighty fine season, one in which many pitchers would not dare to mess with something that isn’t broken.

Interestingly, Wood indeed has had better results with runners on base — when he would pitch out of the stretch — as opposed to the bases being empty, with a respective OPS allowed of .523 versus .684, respectively. Over his career, he has allowed a .617 OPS with runners on and .706 with the bases empty.

In response to Moura’s tweet about Wood, retired pitchers Dan Haren and Jered Weaver took the opportunity to burn themselves. Haren tweeted, “I pitched a few seasons completely out of the stretch actually, just not by choice.” Weaver responded, “Sometimes I would just step off and throw the ball in the gap myself because I knew the hitter would do it anyways.”