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Bucs use off-day to skip Cole in rotation

DENVER -- The Pirates will turn to two of their best arms in a crucial series against the Cardinals that starts Tuesday.

As previously announced, Charlie Morton will get the nod in Game 1, while Francisco Liriano takes the mound Wednesday and A.J. Burnett will close the series, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

That plan allows Pittsburgh to take advantage of Monday's off-day by skipping rookie starter Gerrit Cole, whom the Pirates are monitoring closely. Cole has already thrown 66 innings in the Majors but has thrown more than 100 pitches in just one game, often hovering in the 80s or low-90s.

"We prefer not to trim it as we did the last time with it by having to leave the game after five innings, but pick our spots," Hurdle said.

"So this actually, the way we mapped it out for him, he'll make three starts through the end of the month instead of four. We knocked an entire start out, knocked another 100 pitches off the plate. We'll look to trim in other places as well."

Cole will get two side sessions because he is missing a start, the first Sunday at Coors Field and another in St. Louis, where he may face live batters.

Liriano and Burnett boast two of the three lowest ERAs on the staff, while Morton is 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA. Cole, 22, made his big league debut June 11 and is 5-5 with a 3.95 ERA through 11 starts.

Ian McCue is an associate reporter for
Read More: Pittsburgh Pirates, A.J. Burnett, Charlie Morton, Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole