Off-day doesn't lead Pirates to alter rotation

Off-day doesn't lead Pirates to alter rotation

PITTSBURGH -- With their final off-day of the regular season behind them and a weekend series with the Brewers -- the team chasing them most closely for the National League's second Wild Card spot -- ahead, the Pirates did not make any immediate shuffles to their rotation.

Charlie Morton, making his first start since Aug. 15, started Tuesday against the Red Sox. He'll be followed by Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole, neither of whom is scheduled to face the Brewers this weekend.

Given Monday's off-day, Liriano would have been on regular rest had the Bucs chose to move him up to Tuesday, and that would also have allowed him to face the Brewers as well as put him on schedule to have four days of rest between his final start of the regular season and the NL Wild Card Game, scheduled for Oct. 1. Liriano started and won last season's Wild Card Game against the Reds, and he has a 2.22 ERA since the All-Star break (0.67 in his last four starts).

"[We're] keeping him in a place we feel is most productive for him as well as the group," manager Clint Hurdle said of Liriano. "And, as the conversations went, this is the way we decided to go."

Hurdle also said starting Morton in the series opener against Boston lines up with what the right-hander did in Philadelphia, when the sinkerballer threw a simulated game last Tuesday. Morton has been dealing with a sports hernia in his right hip, and Hurdle said the Pirates would determine a starter for Sunday's series finale with the Brewers, who entered Tuesday 1 1/2 games behind the Pirates, depending on how Tuesday goes. Vance Worley was originally set to throw Tuesday.

The Pirates also had to prepare for the Wild Card Game last season, and they rearranged their rotation accordingly. But Hurdle said that's not something the coaching staff has concerned itself with just yet.

"I think there comes a point in time where you count down games and figure out what you got to do to get in and where it stands," Hurdle said. "We're not anywhere close to that."

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.