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Friday's scouting report: Pirates at Cubs

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Thursday, June 19, 2014, 6:45 p.m.
 

• With top-of-the-rotation arms Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano on the DL, Charlie Morton has stepped up his performance at critical time. Morton has posted back-to-back quality starts and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five straight outings. Coinciding with Morton's improved performance is an improving ground ball rate. Morton is averaging 3.33 ground balls per fly ball in June compared to a 2.42 ratio in May and 2.06 in April.

• The enigmatic Edwin Jackson has allowed 10 runs over 10 23 innings in his past two starts. Jackson has posted his highest fly-ball rate since 2009, which can be dangerous in Wrigley Field depending upon wind conditions.

The Buzz

When Neil Walker returns to the lineup, possibly next week, a platoon situation could emerge at third base with Josh Harrison getting work against left-handed pitchers. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he plans to give Harrison regular playing time, but he'll have to become creative in lineup construction.

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