Pirates' Brault makes first 2017 start vs. Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- After the Pirates' young hitters did much of the damage against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday, Pittsburgh's youth movement will turn to the mound on Tuesday, when left-hander Steven Brault will make his first start of the season.

The Pirates rolled to a 12-0 win over the Cubs in the opener of a four-game series.

Brault, 25, has appeared in six games with the Pirates as a reliever this season, producing an uninspiring 5.93 ERA in 13 2/3 innings. However, the team sees him as a potential future starter, and that is why manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington are excited to get a look at him in the majors this season.

Last year, Brault made seven starts for the Pirates, posting a 4.26 ERA. This season in the minors, he was even better. In 21 appearances (20 starts) with Triple-A Indianapolis, Brault went 10-5 with a 1.94 ERA, which leads the International League.

In four career appearances against the Cubs, including one start, Brault is 0-0 with a 9.35 ERA. He has faced Chicago twice this year, both as a reliever, giving up seven hits and seven runs (four earned) in three innings.

Brault is starting in place of Ivan Nova, who is coming off his shortest outing of the season. Nova allowed five runs on five hits in three innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, and the Pirates want to give him a chance to take a breather and reset.

They also want to get a look at Brault and fellow prospect Tyler Glasnow, who remains in Indianapolis for the moment.

"We're interested to see Tyler Glasnow once Indy's season ends and to get Steven Brault some starting opportunities," Huntington said Sunday.

For now, that means that Brault is in the rotation and Nova is out, but the Pirates are considering other options, including going to a six-man rotation.

"We have those conversations -- (pitching coach Ray Searage), Neal and I -- about twice a week," Hurdle said.

While the Pirates are tinkering with their rotation, the Cubs had a shockwave go through theirs on Monday when Jake Arrieta left his start after 2 1/3 innings with a right hamstring injury.

Arrieta, the Cubs' workhorse, leads the club in starts (28), innings pitched (160 1/3), wins (14) and quality starts (16). Missing him for any length of time would do serious damage to the Cubs' chance at a World Series repeat. Chicago is 3 1/2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.

If Arrieta can't make his next regular turn, it appears that left-hander Mike Montgomery will be ready to take his place in the rotation. Montgomery recently was starting when Jon Lester was hurt. However, late Monday, Arrieta didn't believe he would miss a start.

"Everything looks OK," he said. "I think an MRI is a possibility ... but as of now, I don't foresee it being much of an issue."

Kyle Hendricks (6-4, 3.32 ERA) will get the ball Tuesday for the Cubs. He will be making his ninth start after returning from the disabled list in late July after recovering from right hand tendinitis. He is 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA in that span but has averaged less than six innings per start.

Hendricks is 3-2 with a 3.31 ERA in nine career starts against Pittsburgh, and he is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts against the Pirates this season.

The Pirates hope to continue the hitting they displayed Monday. Pittsburgh pounded out 16 hits, with Max Moroff and Josh Bell each going 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBI.

"It was a good day for Pirate baseball," Hurdle said. "It was a good day for those young men to go out and compete. It was a good day for our team."
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