Scouting Monday's Pirates-Cubs game
Charlie Morton needs to get back his split-changeup to combat left-handed hitters. Morton has been a two-pitch pitcher — sinker and curveball — for much of the season without an offering to neutralize left-handed hitters. Lefties are hitting .310 against Morton this season, righties .226. Morton has had little confidence in the changeup, but the Cubs stacked the lineup with six left-handed batters against Morton earlier this month (5 IP, 3 ER).
• Jeff Samardzija has authored two excellent starts against the Pirates this season and two shaky ones, but he has held current Pirates to a .213 batting average over 155 combined career at-bats. Samardzija's fastball averages 94.5 mph, one of the top average velocities in baseball.
The Reds' Billy Hamilton has impacted the NL Central race with three game-tying or winning runs and 11 steals, the most steals in baseball, since being called up Sept. 3.