Pregame: Marte likely to return soon

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Marte update

This afternoon Hurdle said that Starling Marte could be ready to take some real game at bats very soon.

Marte participated in a simulated game and took regular batting practice before tonight's game. While he is still feeling occasional discomfort, Hurdle said that they are trying to get Marte to understand that the pain is not going to go away this season. "If we wait for him to be pain free, we're talking 2014," Hurdle said. Asked if he thought Marte could play through the current level of pain he is feeling, Hurdle said: "Yeah ... there's a lot of guys in September that have different things that are nagging them a little bit. He's got one, we'll see where he can take it."

Bullpen roles

As the team starts to organize its roster for postseason, Hurdle was asked whether bullpen roles have been set. Hurdle said that those decisions were not for "public disclosure," but that "if you watch the games play out you'll probably see roles emerge and evolve." Hurdle continued: "We're real close right now, with one moving piece, that's Grilli. Leverage guys have pretty much shown you who they are."

Cole pitching well when behind in the count

Compared to league average, Gerrit Cole has been rather successful when pitching from behind in the count (82 OPS+). Oftentimes a pitcher's success in this area comes from his ability to pitch effectively out of the zone. That is, a pitcher is able to induce weak contact from hitters who are looking for the pitcher to "give in." Asked if Cole was showing advanced skills in this regard for a young pitcher, or if it was more the case that he just has really good stuff, Hurdle responded:

I think it's the stuff. He probably gets into a smash mouth mentality when he is behind in the count. You know, "Here it is." He is not really trying to throw secondary pitches very often for strikes or go to certain locations and safety nets. I think that's when it is push comes to shove time for him. It seems, at least so far, to have helped him rebalance and step up his game in those situations.

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