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Pirates going for NL Central title by starting Gerrit Cole

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Kevin C. Cox

The Pirates are starting Gerrit Cole against Johnny Cueto and the Reds today. Russell Martin is out due to his hamstring issues.

Here's the full lineup:

Josh Harrison 3B
Travis Snider RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Starling Marte LF
Ike Davis 1B
Jordy Mercer SS
Chris Stewart C
Gerrit Cole P

The Pirates are clearly going for it and trying to win the division. Anything's possible, but I'm not sure how much sense this makes. For the Pirates to win the NL Central, all the following things would have to happen:

-The Pirates, who are without Russell Martin, must beat Johnny Cueto in Cincinnati.
-The Diamondbacks, who are the Diamondbacks, must beat Adam Wainwright in Arizona.
-The Pirates, who would be starting Jeff Locke or Vance Worley, would then have to beat the Cardinals in St. Louis on Monday.

There's a chance all that happens, but it's not a very good one. None of these matchups favor the Pirates. Meanwhile, by starting Cole today, the Pirates are setting themselves up to have Edinson Volquez start the Wild Card game against San Francisco. The Bucs have gotten solid results from Volquez, but there's no compelling case to be made that he's a better pitcher than Cole. (We'll leave Francisco Liriano aside for now.) The Pirates could certainly still win the division, but I'm not sure it makes sense to try to force the issue now.

You can treat this as the gamethread.