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Scouting Thursday's Pirates-Padres game

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 7:45 p.m.

• Gerrit Cole has pitched like the ace of the Pirates' staff in September. In three starts this month, Cole has posted a 1.35 ERA and his best monthly strikeout rate (9.45 strikeouts per nine innings). Cole was masterful in both of his starts last week against the Rangers and Cubs. Despite already having thrown 23 13 more innings than last season, Cole has shown not signs of tiring. His fastball velocity remains in the mid to upper 90s, and his slider has improved.

• The Pirates have struggled against pitchers with curveballs this season — see: Andrew Cashner — and they face another such pitcher Thursday in Ian Kennedy. Kennedy threw seven shutout innings and struck out eight Pirates last month in a start at San Diego.

• Pirates lefty reliever Justin Wilson might be suffering from some arm fatigue as he had pitched only four times in September entering Wednesday, and manager Clint Hurdle has hinted that he's tried to avoid over-using Wilson.

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