With All-Star pitcher A.J. Burnett on the shelf, the Pittsburgh Pirates picked up J.A. Happ before the trade deadline, and he's hoping a change of scenery will result in some improved performances.
The left-hander will make his Pittsburgh debut Tuesday night when he squares off with the Chicago Cubs' Jake Arrieta in a shortened series between playoff contenders.
With Burnett placed on the disabled list Friday, the Pirates (61-43) made use of a closing trading window that same day to get Happ from Seattle. He could get plenty of starts with Burnett out for at least four weeks because of a strained flexor tendon in his right elbow.
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Burnett is 8-5 with a 3.06 ERA in 21 starts this season while his replacement has gone 4-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 20 starts and one relief appearance. Happ was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in his final four starts for the Mariners, and gave up season highs of seven runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings in a 9-5 loss to Minnesota on Thursday.
"I've had a few tough outings the last couple of weeks, and for me, a fresh start will be a good thing," he told MLB's official website. "I have a lot of confidence in myself. I know what I'm capable of, and I feel healthy. So I'm anxious to get out there and prove that."
Happ will have to pitch opposite Arrieta (11-6, 2.62 ERA), who ranks ninth in the NL in ERA, fourth in strikeouts (147) and sixth in WHIP (1.02). He is 5-1 with a 1.53 ERA in his last eight outings and is 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA in six career starts against Pittsburgh.
The right-hander has yielded one run while pitching at least six innings in each of his last three versus the Pirates, and went seven innings in his latest matchup while taking a 3-0 loss May 17.
Arrieta will try to help the Cubs start this rebooted series on a winning note after Monday's game was postponed. Chicago (57-47) enters Tuesday with a half-game lead over San Francisco for the NL's second wild-card berth with a four-game home series against the Giants looming this weekend.
Pittsburgh is four games ahead of the Cubs for the top wild-card spot.
The rain at PNC Park meant the Cubs' five-game win streak stayed intact while the Pirates remained 11-2 in their last 13 home games and winners in seven of 10 overall. Chicago, 10 games over .500 for the first time since ending 2008 at 97-64, will try for its first six-game road win streak since taking eight in a row Sept. 13-28, 2010. The Cubs also seek to match their season-high six consecutive overall wins May 11-16.
Happ is 1-2 with a 5.57 ERA in four career starts against Chicago and made his most recent June 30, 2012, while with Houston. He'll get his first look at Cubs highly touted rookie Kris Bryant, who returned to the lineup Monday after leaving Sunday's game in Milwaukee when he felt dizzy following a headfirst slide into second base.
"I feel a little bit better," Bryant said. "I only have one head. I only have one life. There's nothing really to joke about with that, so we're taking it really serious."
Andrew McCutchen is 7 for 17 (.412) lifetime against Arrieta and 3 for 6 this season.