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Pirates Shuffle Rotation for Second Half

The Pittsburgh Pirates rotation will have a new look heading into the second half of the 2012 season. Manager Clint Hurdle said on Sunday that the rotation will kick off on July 13 in Milwaukee with James McDonald. Following McDonald will be Kevin Correia then A.J. Burnett. Jeff Karstens and Erik Bedard will be No. 4 and 5 in the series in Colorado.

“We’ve looked at this a couple different ways,” Hurdle said. “We really wanted to split up some things, do the best job we could at maybe presenting a different look after each guy throws. And to give some guys some time down. This is going to give Erik an opportunity to throw a couple sides in order to work on some things. It will give A.J. some time down, which I think he would benefit from.”

McDonald was the Pirates ace of the staff the first half of the season posting a 2.37 ERA over 13 starts. He’s had an impressive breakout season in 2012 and is evolving into a No. 1 starter. Hurdle said he wanted to split McDonald and Burnett, who piggy backed each other this year, to give the opposing teams a different look since they are similar type pitchers.

“There’s different thoughts when you throw them back-to-back and then you go for a kill,” Hurdle said. “That’s true, then you get to some series where you set up when they’re not even involved that could be an importance as well. I don’t know if there’s a perfect equation, but we looked at it a bunch of different ways and this one is the way we’ve come up with it and we’re very comfortable with it.”

Hurdle said that inserting lefty Bedard into the fifth spot will allow him to work on several tweaks. Bedard posted just a 2.48 ERA in his first five starts his first year with Pittsburgh, but struggled over his last 10 with a 6.52 ERA. After his last trip to the mound, Hurdle said he had some ideas on what they planned on working on with him to get him back on track, but wasn’t going to share the adjustments with the media just yet.

“We’re going to keep it in house because I really don’t want to send a red flag out that to the rest of the League and the opposition on what we’re going to do,” Hurdle said. “We’ve got some thoughts. He’s out there today to start the process. He’s healthy. That’s one of the most frustrating things for him. He’s healthy. He’s going through a tough stretch. I do think that we’ve been able to show him some video and talk about some situations, things we saw earlier in the year, sequences of pitches earlier in the year versus what’s going on now, the looks we’re getting from the opposition. I think we’re trying to make some sense of it all and he’s been good with the coaching up part of it.”

The Pirates pitching staff entered the All-Star break with a combined 3.47 ERA — ranked fifth best in the Majors and fourth overall in the National League.

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