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Notes: Edinson Volquez gets 10th win, Gerrit Cole set for third rehab start

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Volquez gets 10th win

Many Pirates fans were skeptical when the team signed Edinson Volquez, and they had good reason. One analyst observed that Volquez was perhaps the worst pitcher in major league baseball between 2009 and 2013. He posted a 4.95 ERA during that time, while spending almost two of those years in San Diego, where he pitched in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

However, in a largely unexpected twist to this season, Volquez has emerged as one of the Pirates' more stable starters. In a year in which the club has had its share of disappointing stories amongst the pitchers who came north with the team, Volquez's performance has been an important and pleasant surprise.

"I don't need to be swayed by outside opinion," Hurdle said when asked whether he was aware of the skepticism surrounding the signing back in December and heading into spring training.

"We're not going to bat a thousand with some of these people we bring in, but we've got an idea about what we do, guys we target and how we're going to help them work back," Hurdle continued. "And so far we've had success doing it with a number of guys."

Tonight, Volquez gained his 10th win of the season. And, while we all know the problems with that statistic, in this case it is noteworthy. If anything, a significant number of wins means that a pitcher has been able to go fairly deep into games, and hold down the leads that are given to him. This year, Volquez is averaging more innings pitched per start (6.0) than he has since his breakout year in 2008. His 52.1 quality start percentage ranks above league average. These are very solid numbers from a pitcher slated to be a fifth starter.

"About time," was Volquez's response when the topic of getting his 10th came up after the game. "It feels pretty good. I only won like nine games last year, and now I'm at 10, and it was a great win for the team."

Volquez tells Cabrera to enjoy time at first

As I've mentioned before, Volquez is one of the more jovial personalities in the Pirates clubhouse. It appears the fun carries out onto the field.

After he walked Miguel Cabrera for the second time tonight, Volquez said that he told the Tigers slugger, "You're not going to beat me. Enjoy your time at first base. He started laughing."

Marte sides with caution

Starling Marte has made his share of baserunning mistakes this season. But tonight he made the right decision in a pivotal moment and it led to an important run.

After he walked to lead off the sixth, Tigers pitcher Al Albuquerque tried to pick him off first. The ball got away from Victor Martinez and Marte started to take off for second. The ball didn't roll as far as he thought it would and it quickly became clear that if he continued he would likely be out. Instead of taking the risk, Marte put on the brakes and safely returned to first. On the next pitch, he stole second and then Ike Davis promptly doubled him home, expanding the lead to two runs and giving the Pirates some needed breathing room.

"It was a very good move," Marte said of his decision. "The game is tight, and it is very important  because I can steal second base and then Ike can hopefully get a base hit and a RBI."

For a player who is often criticized for perhaps not fully appreciating the game situations in which he finds himself, Marte made a heads-up play tonight. It'll be interesting going forward if this might perhaps signal a turning point in his baserunning decision-making.

Next step for Cole

Gerrit Cole will make another rehab start on August 16, his fourth. In the his last start, Cole did not reach the volume of pitches that the club anticipated, going six innings and throwing only 74 pitches.

Hurdle said that they would like to see him increase both the number of innings and pitches thrown in his next start. He hinted that if everything went well and Cole reached 90 pitches, he would likely return to the rotation.

"We don't have the urgency to even map that out," Hurdle said. "I think he is in a spot now, six in 74, which we believe the next time he's going to take and do close to 90. I think that is going to put him in a very good position to come back here and help this club. But I don't know. He hasn't pitched yet."

It is a little odd for a pitcher to take four rehab starts, which raises the suspicion that the team is concerned with how his body is responding, or that they are simply taking a very cautious approach. However, Hurdle said it was neither.

"I don't think it's either one," Hurdle said. "I think that is the hard part for people on the outside to try and grasp what it might be and speculate. We make decisions with the player in the room. [Decisions are] based on history, based on their history, based on the what we have with other players."

Hurdle added that if one were to look at the research, players returning from shorter rehab assignments generally don't produce at their pre-injury levels immediately.

Finally, Hurdle ruled out an idea we kicked around yesterday, that Cole could return and spend some time in the bullpen before returning to starting.

"A Chance" Alvarez will DH in Detroit

Tomorrow provides an opportunity for the Pirates to get Pedro Alvarez back into the lineup as a designated hitter in Detroit. Clint Hurdle expressed a desire to get "some bats under his belt" before he see his first action at first base.

"There's a chance," Hurdle said about Alvarez returning to the lineup in the capacity of designated hitter tomorrow. "And you've got a feeling, don't you? Yes, there's a chance."