The Pirates announced that ace Gerrit Cole has been placed on the disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 25, with “posterior inflammation of the right elbow.” Left-hander Steven Brault is up from Triple-A Indianapolis and will assume Cole’s spot in the rotation against the Cubs tonight.
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This will be the second DL stint of the season for Cole, who missed just over a month earlier this summer when he was diagnosed with a strained right triceps. The fourth-place finisher in last year’s National League Cy Young voting, Cole hasn’t looked like himself since being activated from that initial trip to the disabled list, pitching to a 4.73 ERA and yielding 57 hits in 45 2/3 innings. Overall, he’s posted a 3.55 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 46.1 percent ground-ball rate in 114 innings. All of those rates have gone the wrong direction from last season’s masterful numbers, though there’s been very little loss of velocity for Cole.
Brault, 24, will join the Bucs for the second time this season. Originally acquired from the Orioles in the 2015 Travis Snider trade, Brault allowed four earned runs in 10 innings across a pair of starts earlier this season and has enjoyed a solid season at the Triple-A level as well. In 75 1/3 minor league innings this year, Brault has recorded a 3.70 ERA with a career-best 10.3 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9 to go along with a 41.5 percent ground-ball rate.
The loss of Cole is a tough break for a Pirates team that is presently just a half-game back from the Cardinals in the race for the second National League Wild Card spot. However, the struggles of Pittsburgh’s ace over the past several weeks have arguably been more detrimental, and if a short-term layoff allows him to right the ship prior to a theoretical postseason run, the club could come out ahead in the long haul.