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.

Marty Brennaman announces that 2019 will be his last season

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Cincinnati Reds announcer Marty Brennaman announced a few moments ago that 2019 will be his last season in the broadcast booth.

Brennaman, 76, has broadcast Reds games since 1974 and stands as every bit an institution among Reds fans as any announcer ever has among his local fan base. In 2000 he won the Ford C. Frick Award award, presented annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He called Hank Aaron’s 714th home run, Tom Seaver’s no-hitter, Tom Browning’s perfect game and every other major moment that occurred in a game involving the Reds for the past 44 years. He also, of course, has called three World Series clinchers for the Reds.

Brennaman, also, has been no stranger to controversy, primarily due to his penchant for criticizing Reds players for whom he seems to not to care, with Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn and Joey Votto being among the more notable examples. There are, of course, many Reds fans who share Marty’s views in such instances. It’s an open question as to whether Brennaman has merely shared or reflected that mindset on the one hand or if, on the other hand, he has encouraged it. However you want to view that, there is no denying the fact that Brennaman has never hesitated to speak his mind and that a great deal of the considerable love for him among Reds fans is due in no small part to that.

Brennaman will get and will deserve a farewell tour in 2019. And, in 2020, he will leave some very large shoes to fill.