DHP_70951. A.J. Burnett on Sunday threw around 70 pitches, 40 fastballs, 20 cuveballs, 6-10 changeups and the velocity was very encouraging. “He threw all three pitches effectively,” GM Neal Huntington said yesterday. “Curveball was good. Changeup was good for A.J. and the fastball showed life.”

The Pirates are about 10-14 days from needing to figure out their rotation for Burnett’s expected return for the Cubs series.

“We’ll have a challenging decision to make,” Huntington said.

Jeff Locke is the prime candidate to come out, but for Huntington and the Pirates, would there really be any drop off by keeping Locke in the rotation and planting Charlie Morton on the bench?

For whatever reason there continues to be a narrative that Charlie Morton is a quality starting pitcher. The only difference between Locke and Morton — Morton makes about $8 million, Locke $531,000 —

2. The Pirates believing they brought Gregory Polanco to the majors too soon last season has played a factor in the team giving little to no consideration to calling up Tyler Glasnow or Josh Bell at any point when rosters expand. “He [Tyler Glasnow] continues to remind us that there are some things he needs to do,” Huntington said of Glasnow.

Catcher Elias Diaz will be the only player who has no Major League experience to be among the first wave of Sept 1 callups this week. Alen Hanson remains the only other candidate at a later point when it comes to players who have no Major League experience.

It’s time to stick a fork in Tony Sanchez ever being in the Pirates plans. At least Bob Nutting’s booze bill will be down when the Pirates clinch a playoff spot.

scobee3. The Steelers are on their third kicker in less than a month and Steeler officials should feel a lot more comfortable with Josh Scobee going into the season than Garrett Harley. The team even upgraded over Shaun Suisham in one area.

Scobee has a big leg and 54% of his kickoffs went for touchbacks the last three seasons.

DHP_74634. Gerrit Cole vs Jake Arrieta in the wildcard game — who you got? —

If that isn’t the pitching matchup just over a month from now in the Cubs and Pirates likely facing each other, then one or both managers would be doing a disservice to their team.

5. The Penguins and Cody Franson.

Pittsburgh tried to acquire Franson last February prior to the deadline offering Simon Despres, expressed interest in Franson during the negotiating period in June, but the Phil Kessel acquisition took Pittsburgh out of the running on July 1 or at least they figured it did.

Despite limited cap space, a league source says the Penguins circled back to the Franson camp in late July and made a To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

— Check out the TIOPS Daily Five Monday – Friday’s —

Recapping Monday’s Action on TIOPS

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