PITTSBURGH — The Pirates (23-17) jump back into interleague play for a hot second, hosting the White Sox (10-27) at PNC Park in a two-game series that’ll (probably) wrap up in under 24 hours.
If this feels familiar, that’s because these two clubs got together on the same two days last week on the South Side of Chicago, with Pittsburgh rallying from four runs behind in both games to sweep the mini-series.
While the Pirates have won their past three series — including a 2-1 mark over the weekend against Andrew McCutchen and the Giants — to stay just a game back of the NL Central lead, the last-place White Sox have lost 11 of 13 … and that’s even including a 5-3 win at the crosstown Cubs on Sunday at Wrigley Field.
Tonight, Pirates righty Trevor Williams (3.13 ERA, 4.60 FIP in 46 innings) opposes former Nationals prospect Reynaldo López (2.44 ERA, 4.92 FIP in 44 1/3 innings), whom the Sox acquired in the deal that sent Adam Eaton to Washington two winters ago.
ON THE MOUND
Following up on hints Neal Huntington dropped Sunday, Clint Hurdle informed reporters this afternoon that George Kontos would no longer be deployed in front of Felipe Vásquez when the Pirates are protecting narrow leads.
“We’re going to look for different opportunities” for Kontos, Hurdle said. “He’s been going out and getting outs when called upon for many years. This might be the first time he’s had a hard time keeping people off the plate, truthfully. We’re looking to get him the ball and figure some things out.”
Hurdle didn’t name a replacement ‘eighth-inning guy;’ rather, the Pirates will go with a combination of Michael Feliz, Richard Rodriguez, Edgar Santana and Kyle Crick in this spots, depending on matchups and availability.
Feliz might be the logical man to bump further into the back end of the game, but the Pirates want to see more from him.
“Michael’s done a nice job keeping them off the plate in the seventh, but pitch efficiency is something we’re monitoring going forward,” Hurdle said. “Michael’s slider hasn’t come into play we hoped he would, but he’s done a fantastic job with the fastball so far.”
Also, Jameson Taillon (lacerated finger) is on track to pitch Wednesday afternoon and Joe Musgrove will make what the Pirates are hoping is his final rehab start Friday for Triple-A Indianapolis.
Along those lines, here’s my story from this morning on where Nick Kingham stands with Musgrove getting closer to his Pirates debut:
The Pirates will pursue their seventh win in nine games with the following lineup …
Here's our lineup, presented by Honda. #LetsGoBucs
— Pirates (@Pirates) May 15, 2018
Against the righty, the Pirates will push Francisco Cervelli back to his familiar No. 6 hole. The starting catcher led off Sunday against lefty Derek Holland.
WHITE SOX LINEUP
And for Pale Hose manager Rick Renteria …
Feels like summer, doesn’t it? We’re looking at a breezy, warm evening at the Best Ballpark in America(TM), with temperatures in the high 70s and rising humidity. Small chance of rain, but Weather.com puts the number at 15 percent throughout the night.