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.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.