Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole hasn't pitched for Pittsburgh since going down with a lat injury on July 4. He made his first minor-league rehab start Monday, though, and it had to have been encouraging for the Pirates.
Cole worked five innings for Triple-A Indianapolis, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out seven. He threw 81 pitches.
Though the Pirates haven't yet mentioned a specific timetable for Cole's return, but given his performance and the fact that he made it through 81 pitches, it's a distinct possibility his next start with the big-league club. One more rehab start is probably the most likely path, though.
Cole, 23, is 7-4 with a 3.78 ERA (95 ERA+) and 78 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings this season. The UCLA product was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Cole's return to the rotation will impact the playoff chase, as the Pirates are very much in the NL Central (two games back) and wild card (1/2 game back) races.