Pirates notebook: Postseason pitching plan set
CINCINNATI — The postseason pitching plan fell into place Saturday when the Pirates locked up home field for the NL wild-card game.
Manager Clint Hurdle confirmed left-hander Francisco Liriano will start the wild-card game Tuesday. Johnny Cueto will start for the Cincinnati Reds.
If the Pirates advance to the NL Division Series, right-hander A.J. Burnett will start Game 1. Hurdle said the team is “leaning more toward using a four-man” rotation in the NLDS.
“We've got four guys (Liriano, Burnett, Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole) who are pitching extremely well, and we'd like to stick with it,” Hurdle said. “One of the things we've been very consistent with is the way we've used our starting pitching.”
Cole was supposed to start Sunday's regular-season finale. But that game is meaningless now, so right-hander Brandon Cumpton will start. Right-hander Greg Reynolds will pitch for the Reds.
Byrd having a blast
This is Marlon Byrd's 12th season in the major leagues. The Pirates are his seventh team, spanning the American and National Leagues. Yet he has never gotten a sniff of the postseason.
“It's a blast,” Byrd said. “I've been close, but I've never been in this position, where a team knows it's going to make the playoffs, there are sellouts every night, a whole city is behind you. It's just amazing.”
Byrd had a good shot at the playoffs in 2009, when he played for Texas. The Rangers went 87-75, but the Boston Red Sox got the AL wild-card spot. In 2004, when Byrd was with Philadelphia, the Phillies wound up four games out of the NL wild card.
Has this ride with the Pirates been better than expected?
“What will be better is October,” Byrd said. “Once we get there, it will really start sinking in.”
Reliever Mark Melancon tossed one scoreless inning Saturday. That snapped a stretch in which he blew three straight save chances and gave up six runs (three earned) in 2 2⁄3 innings.
“I think the coaching staff and front office was more worried than I was,” Melancon said. “For some reason, they were on pins and needles. But there was no need to be. I never felt that way.”
Hold the ice
Andrew McCutchen laughed when someone asked how the champagne tasted during the Pirates' postgame party when they locked up a playoff bid.
“It was a little too cold for me,” McCutchen said. “I think next time we should leave it hot.”
“You're going to get it poured on you, and it's going to be wasted, anyway,” McCutchen said. “What's the point of chilling it if you're not going to drink it?”
When the Pirates clinched a playoff berth Monday in Chicago, Jeff Karstens celebrated in the clubhouse like everyone else on the team. But it was a bittersweet moment for Karstens, who has been on the disabled list the entire season.
“It was hard, but nothing is more gratifying than seeing what these guys have done,” said Karstens, who had shoulder surgery in June. “There's a lot of joy and happiness, even though I wish I could've contributed more.”
Karstens was non-tendered last winter, then re-signed with the Pirates as a free agent. He frequently is asked why he bothered to return to a team that once designated him for assignment.
“This is the only place I wanted to play,” Karstens said. “I wanted to be part of this because I felt we were going in the right direction.”
Karstens turned 31 years old the day after the Pirates clinched.
“I couldn't ask for a better birthday present,” Karstens said. “I can't ask for a playoff (roster) spot, so I'm going to ask for a World Series ring.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates show depth in earning victory over Rockies; Polanco has big night
- Pirates notebook: Catcher Cervelli among ejection leaders
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle mulling rotation options
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Rockies, Aug. 29, 2015
- Pirates turn nifty double play in 9th, edge Marlins
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Rockies, Aug. 28, 2015
- Pirates erupt for 6-run 2nd, maul Marlins behind Locke, McCutchen
- Pirates notebook: Former 1st-round pick Tucker has shoulder surgery
- Gameday: Pirates at Marlins, Aug. 25, 2015
- Lacking 2 of his pitches, Pirates’ Morton can’t find rhythm in loss to Marlins
- Pirates notebook: Burnett’s simulated game goes well