Pirates-Braves preview

BY foxsports • August 4, 2016

ATLANTA -- Don't expect to see Andrew McCutchen on Thursday when the Pittsburgh Pirates make the final appearance at Turner Field. He won't be playing.

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, looking for anything that might get the center fielder's bat in gear, decided to bench him for the three-game series against the Braves.

Why not give it try, since nothing else has worked, Hurdle said.

"Let's try this because we have tried just about everything else," Hurdle said.

The final contest of the three-game series features Atlanta rookie right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (1-2, 4.91) against veteran right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (1-1, 3.74), who is making his first start since getting hit in the face by a pitch May 23.

The two teams have split the first two games of the series. Pittsburgh is 4-2 against Atlanta this year.

McCutchen has suffered through a very atypical season. The veteran is batting .241 -- 52 points below his career average -- with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs. It is unlikely he will be able to extend his streak of five straight years with at least 80 RBIs. If the Pirates have any hopes staying in the picture for the wild card spot, they need McCutchen to return to form.

"The man has tried everything," Hurdle said. "At this point we're asking him to step away, hit the pause button and get away from it for three games."

McCutchen is 1-for-12 with one RBI on the six-game road trip.

McCutchen hesitantly agreed to give Hurdle's plan a try, although he didn't necessarily agree with the ploy.

"I wouldn't be taking days off," McCutchen said. "Not something I prefer for myself. They seem to think so. We'll see."

The pitching matchup offers quite a contrast with Jenkins, 24, making his fourth career start against Vogelsong, 39, trying to extend his career.

Jenkins picked up his first major league win in his last start against the Phillies, going six innings and allowed only an unearned run. Jenkins has allowed two runs or fewer in three of his four starts. Jenkins, the 2015 Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the Atlanta organization, has never faced Pittsburgh.

In four rehab starts since he was struck in the left eye, Vogelsong was 1-2 with a 2.86 ERA. He will be making his third start of the season and first against Atlanta. Vogelsong is 2-3 with a 5.08 ERA in eight career appearances (five starts) against the Braves.

The Pirates may need to make a decision on catcher Franciso Cervelli, who was hit in the head by a pitch Tuesday and was being monitored for a concussion. If Cervelli needs to go on the concussion disabled list, he would be replaced by Elias Diaz, who was brought to Atlanta in case he was needed. The Pirates are likely to make a decision before Thursday's game.

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