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4:05 PM PT5:05 PM MT6:05 PM CT7:05 PM ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 PM MST6:05 PM EST6:35 PM VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 PM CT, September 20, 2017
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  Attendance: 15,741

Brewers throw Wilkerson into fire vs. Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Aaron Wilkerson will become the 13th pitcher to start a game for the Milwaukee Brewers this season when he opposed the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.

He might be the least likely.

Wilkerson will be making his first major league start after his big-league debut came in relief last week. But he wasn't on many radars when it came to starting pitching options for the Brewers for much of the season, which he spent with Double-A Biloxi.

His numbers in Biloxi were fine, if not eye-catching. He posted an 11-4 record with a 3.14 ERA. He struck out 143 and walked 36 in 142 1/3 innings. However, at 28, he was significantly more experienced than his competition.

Not many players get called up from Double-A to the majors at the end of the season, but not many take the path Wilkerson took to get there, either.

Undrafted out of Cumberland University, Wilkerson spent a year and a half bouncing around independent leagues. By the time he signed with the Boston Red Sox's organization in 2014, he was already as older than many major league rookies.

"He's got a different path, for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Tuesday. "And one that tested, certainly, his love for the game. It could have been easy for him to kind of certainly go a different direction multiple times. But he's stuck to it, and he's a good pitcher. And that's why he's getting this shot."

Not to put any more pressure on Wilkerson than already exists, but it is not exactly a throw-away September game. The Brewers have one more shot to add on against the struggling Pirates, whom they shut out on back-to-back nights to start the three-game series, before facing the first-place Chicago Cubs in a division showdown this weekend.

Milwaukee, which trails the Colorado Rockies by one game for the second National League wild-card spot, is 3 1/2 behind Chicago in the NL Central.

"It's a big spot," Counsell said, "but we will feel like he has been pitching in a way that we think he can have success up here. So I am looking forward to it, and we will see where it gets us."

Across the diamond, the Pirates are trying something different, too.

After the rosters expanded in September, the Pirates called up left-hander Steven Brault and righty Tyler Glasnow from Triple-A Indianapolis. Brault and Glasnow were pitching in the rotation in the minors, and the Pirates wanted to see them perform in that role in the majors.

However, Pittsburgh already had five starters, and none seemed eager to yield any playing time. The Pirates skipped some starts and pushed some starts back to try make it work, but Wednesday, they are going to try something else.

Brault and Glasnow will both pitch, with Brault getting the start and Glasnow coming in midway through. Glasnow has pitched in relief before -- a few games at the end of the 2016 season -- but this will be something new to him and the Pirates. Even so, he is approaching it just like any other start.

"I'm just doing the same stuff," he said. "I'm not going to have a starter routine (before the game). I'll warm up in the 'pen. I obviously won't have all of my normal stretches and stuff, but it's the same game."

Brault (1-0, 4.38 ERA) has faced the Brewers four times in his career and is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA. Glasnow (2-7, 7.89) is 0-2 with an 8.00 ERA against Milwaukee in his career.

Updated September 20, 2017

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