The Cubs activated left-hander José Quintana from the injured list Tuesday to make the first of what's expected to be two starts down the stretch to prepare for possible starting duty during the playoffs.
Quintana, who missed eight weeks after cutting a sensory nerve in his thumb on broken glass in late June, made two effective appearances before a lat injury sidelined him the last three weeks.
Tuesday's start in Pittsburgh since is his first appearance since Aug. 30 in Cincinnati.
He pitched three innings in each of the two previous, relief appearances. If he returns strong enough to stretch out to even four innings in a second start, that could put him in position to be the Cubs' fourth starter in a postseason that requires preparing five-man rotations after the first round because of a lack of in-series days off.
That second start would come in the season finale against the White Sox — the team that traded him to the Cubs at the All-Star break in 2017 for four players, including Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease.
To make room on the 28-man roster Tuesday, left-handed reliever Rex Brothers was optioned to alternate-site South Bend.