When Gerrit Cole returns to the Pirates' rotation, Vance Worley's future will get a bit clouded. One thing is for sure, however: Worley will get the ball Saturday night in Arizona, and the Bucs are hoping he can put on a repeat performance from his last start against the Giants.
Worley has far exceeded any fill-in expectations anyone had for him since he joined the Pirates' rotation in mid-June due to injuries. And he had his best start yet the last time he took the mound.
Worley threw a masterpiece against San Francisco, hurling a shutout in which he yielded just four hits and walked one batter on Monday.
"His stuff was crisp," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Worley's last start. "I love the way he made the pitches he needed to make when he did get a baserunner. He had command of all of his pitches and kept up a very good pace. When the pitcher throws strikes, the defense really has a chance to show up."
Cole (strained right lat), meanwhile, was scratched from his final rehab start on Saturday but could return to the Pirates' rotation soon, leaving Worley's future role a mystery. However, in his month and a half, Worley has been a blessing for the Bucs, compiling a 2.54 ERA and 1.067 WHIP in eight appearances entering Saturday. Worley has one start against the D-backs this season, allowing three runs on four hits on July 3.
Rookie right-hander Chase Anderson will get the nod for the D-backs. Anderson has been terrific lately, posting a 1.89 ERA with 21 strikeouts in his last three starts (19 innings).
He matched his career-best by going seven frames against the Reds on Monday, and did so on just 89 pitches.
"Pitch count's been down the last couple outings, so it's always a plus for a starting pitcher, because you know you can get to the sixth, seventh, eighth, maybe even ninth inning some days," Anderson said Friday. "That's just my goal overall is to get better at that."
D-backs: Goldschmidt gets day off Friday
D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt got most of the day off Friday before pinch-hitting in the ninth inning. He got hit by a pitch on his left hand and will be re-evaluated on Saturday (X-rays after Friday's game were inconclusive).
The slugging first baseman has been in a bit of a funk lately, going 8-for-39 (.205) in his last 10 games with three extra-base hits and 14 strikeouts. It may be a good thing for Goldschmidt, too. After his other off-day this season (June 4), he went on a tear, hitting .339 with five homers in his next 16 games.
"[Manager Kirk Gibson is] doing what's best for the team," Goldschmidt said. "I mean, you want to play every day, but days off sometimes are good. He knows I want to play. I'll tell him that any time, but I'm not in there arguing with him or anything."
A two-time All-Star, Goldschmidt has a slash line of .300/.395/.542 with 19 homers and 69 RBIs this season.
Pirates: McCutchen continues to work out of slump
Mired in the worst slump of his season, Andrew McCutchen put together a 2-for-4 night Friday against the Diamondbacks.
It's been a tough handful of days for the reigning National League MVP, and he's (6-for-37) in his last 10 games. Still, McCutchen leads the Bucs in nearly every major offensive category, and Hurdle said he believes McCutchen will break out of the slump in a big way.
"This is something we talked about only [Thursday]," Hurdle said. "I told him, 'The longer this goes on, the shorter the time till you get red hot.' There's a fine line between being hot and not. He knows his swing has been in a better place, so he continues to refine it."
• The D-backs are 13-16 against the NL Central this season, their best record against any NL division.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.