|10:35 AM PT11:35 AM MT12:35 PM CT1:35 PM ET13:35 ET17:35 GMT1:35 10:35 AM MST12:35 PM EST1:05 PM VEN21:35 UAE12:35 PM CT, September 8, 2019
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Attendance: 18,363
Pirates' Marvel to face first-place Cards in debut
This is what being the ace of a Triple-A staff gets you: A chance to make your major league debut against a hot starter and a first-place team in stretch-run mode.
That's the reality for right-hander James Marvel, 25, who will start Sunday for the Pittsburgh Pirates (62-80) in their series finale against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals (80-62) will be looking to win the series and protect their lead in the National League Central after they won Saturday 10-1 to even the three-game set.
In the shorter term, Marvel's start is not a surprise. After matriculating from Double-A Altoona, he was 7-0 with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 11 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis, with 53 strikeouts and 22 walks in 60 2/3 innings.
In addition, Marvel was the starter-in-waiting for Sunday. He was summoned Wednesday but not immediately activated. The Pirates wanted insurance in case rookie Mitch Keller, who left Tuesday's start in the second inning after taking a line drive off his throwing hand, could not make his scheduled start Sunday.
Keller's diagnosis wasn't so bad -- a contusion -- and he is scheduled to start Tuesday. But Pittsburgh is being cautious and cashing in that insurance by giving Marvel the start Sunday.
In the longer term, Marvel has taken a more frustrating, drawn-out route than he originally hoped.
He had Tommy John surgery while at Duke, then got drafted by the Pirates in the 36th round in 2015 and has worked his way up through the minor league system since.
"Growing up, I always had this idea of what my career was going to be," Marvel told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "It didn't turn out like that, but I wouldn't trade anything I've been through, particularly the injuries when I was younger. Because I really do believe those things changed my career, made me a stronger player, a stronger person.
"And the things I had to go through physically and mentally, I know for certain I wouldn't be where I am today without having gone through it."
For his debut, Marvel is scheduled to face St. Louis right-hander Jack Flaherty (9-7, 3.14 ERA).
Marvel could have his hands full trying to keep pace with Flaherty if he matches his last performance. In Tuesday's 1-0 win over San Francisco, Flaherty pitched a career-best eight shutout innings, striking out eight and giving up only a two-out single in the sixth.
And that was after he was named National League pitcher of the month for August. In 10 starts since the All-Star break, he has an 0.85 ERA.
"I think Jack is in control of what he's doing," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "It's just about staying present, staying in the moment. It's a concept that's easier said than done, but it's important. It allows you to stay in the moment, let your body work, be able to think a little clearer. Jack's been able to do that. Impressive."
Just doing his part, said Flaherty, who is two years younger than Marvel.
"It's fun to be on this team," Flaherty said. "Any time you can get on a team like this, making a push -- we know where we're at. It's just not trying to do too much, trying to stay right there. I feel like everyone ... sees where we're at and wants to contribute in any way they can."
Flaherty is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in six career starts against Pittsburgh.
--Field Level Media
Updated September 8, 2019