The Pittsburgh Pirates still don’t have a starter for Saturday, although it’s looking more and more like that starter will be Daniel McCutchen. Charlie Morton would be the only other option, but Morton is scheduled to start tonight for Indianapolis. If Morton does start, then that would pretty much confirm that McCutchen will start Saturday, which was his next scheduled start for Indianapolis.
McCutchen had his struggles at the start of the year, putting up a 13.50 ERA in 12 innings, spanning four appearances and three starts. McCutchen posted a 7:7 K/BB ratio during that span, with five homers allowed. He struggled in his return to AAA, posting a 4.81 ERA in his first four starts, with a 12:3 K/BB ratio in 24.1 innings during that stretch. McCutchen was put on the disabled list, and missed ten days after that fourth start, which saw him give up seven runs in six innings of work.
Upon his return, McCutchen has been much better, with a 3.22 ERA and a 17:11 K/BB ratio in 36.1 innings over six starts. He’s gotten even better recently, with a 2.73 ERA and a 15:7 K/BB ratio in 26.1 innings in his four starts during the month of June. McCutchen looked like he could be a back of the rotation starter before the season, and it would be a huge boost to the Pirates if his recent success is an indication of a turnaround from his early season woes in the majors.
As for Morton, he is currently on a rehab assignment, which means he can be down in the minors for a maximum of 30 days. Morton began his assignment on June 8th, which means he would need to return to the majors no later than July 8th. Right now he lines up for starts on the 29th of June, the 4th of July, and the 9th of July. That’s pretty much the same schedule as Jeff Karstens, although Karstens lines up for the 10th of July.
My guess is that the Pirates will see how McCutchen handles his return to the majors, while giving Morton some more time to work things out at AAA. Morton hasn’t exactly been dominant at the level, with a 4.91 ERA in 14.2 innings over three starts, and a 14:6 K/BB ratio. If McCutchen does well, I could see Morton returning to take Karstens’ spot in the rotation, most likely after Morton makes his final three rehab starts with AAA.