A.J. Burnett to make return Thursday, Pirates skipping Gerrit Cole’s next start


The Pirates are set to welcome A.J. Burnett back from the disabled list. And they’ll do it just in time to give ace Gerrit Cole some rest in preparation for a postseason run.

According to Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Burnett will be activated to start Thursday against the Brewers. The veteran right-hander has been out since July 30 with a flexor strain in his throwing elbow. While some speculated that the injury could end his career, he has made progress since receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection. Burnett, who has a 3.06 ERA in 21 starts this season, threw a simulated game on Friday and made it through a bullpen session Sunday with no issues.

Cole lowered his ERA to 2.54 with a great start against the first-place Cardinals on Sunday, but he has already blown past his career-high with 180 2/3 innings. He threw 160 1/3 innings between the majors and the minors last season. His next start is expected to be in a doubleheader against the Cubs next Tuesday, so he’ll go eight days between starts.