Neil Walker back in starting lineup for first time since August 26

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The Pirates’ recent collapse has been pretty depressing to watch, but there is some good news to report this morning.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Neil Walker is back in the Pirates’ starting lineup this afternoon against the Cubs after missing 16 straight starts due to lower back tightness. He struck out as a pinch-hitter yesterday in his first game action since August 26.

The Pirates went 4-12 with Walker out of the lineup and have lost seven in a row to fall to 72-71 on the year. They’ll open today’s action three games behind the Cardinals in the Wild Card race with 19 games to play. Postseason aspirations aside, avoiding a 20th straight losing season is suddenly looking dicey.

Walker, 27, is batting .280/.341/.434 with 14 home runs, 69 RBI and a .775 OPS in 122 games played this season.

Report: Athletics sign Chris Herrmann to one-year, $1 million deal

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Athletics and catcher Chris Herrmann have agreed to a contract. It’s a one-year deal worth $1 million with performance incentives, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman.

Herrmann, 31, spent last season with the Mariners, batting .237/.322/.421 with a pair of home runs and seven RBI in 87 plate appearances. He opened the season at Triple-A Tacoma, then was called up in late May. Herrmann battled an oblique injury during the season as well.

Herrmann figures to back up Josh Phegley behind the plate in 2019.