Josh Harrison is back and Jordy Mercer is close. The Pittsburgh Pirates, already playing postseason-caliber baseball, are about to return to full strength and are positioned to make a major charge at NL Central-division leader St. Louis.
The Cardinals are dealing with multiple injuries and if their stellar pitching staff falters at all, the window is open for the Pirates to steal the division. Pittsburgh has won 11 of 14 games and trails the Red Birds by just 4.5 games entering Friday's games.
The Pirates beat San Francisco 4-0 on Thursday. The Cardinals begin a West Coast swing Friday night at San Diego.
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Harrison, the Pirates' third baseman, has been out since early July with a thumb injury, and shortstop Mercer has been out since July 20 with a knee sprain.
"It's going to be fun. We get more good players back, the better our team is going to be," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told Bob Smizik of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I'm looking forward to it."
Getting two starters back in the lineup allows the Pirates to employ one of the more dangerous benches in baseball.
It should also give them a fighting chance to pass the Cardinals and win the division.
(h/t Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)