• The Pirates hope Francisco Liriano has returned to his 2013 form following the All-Star break. In his past four starts, Liriano has a 29-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has allowed four earned runs in 25 innings. Liriano claims he wasn't healthy to begin the year, and then strained his left oblique in the first half. While the Pirates didn't land an ace at the trade deadline, getting the 2013 Liriano back would be a considerable de facto addition.
• After not seeing many lefties the first three months in the right-handed heavy NL Central, the Pirates will see another lefty in Eric Stults. The Pirates are 13-10 against left-handers this season, but they will miss Andrew McCutchen's bat. The Pirates have only 22 at-bats against Stults.
Ike Davis is a superior batter against right-handed pitchers compared to Pedro Alvarez. Davis has a career .816 on-base plus slugging mark against righties. Alvarez has a .793 OPS. That complicates a potential Alvarez-to-first move.
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