After the stretch of 20 games without a day off ends on the 23rd, the Pirates will likely go back to a normal five man rotation. Pittsburgh still has eight more starts lined up before the off day after traveling to St. Louis and San Diego starting on Friday. The club will return home on the 24 to open up a six-game homestand.
The six-man rotation has many benefits. Manager Clint Hurdle alluded to giving the starting staff the extra day during the long stretch as well as rewarding Kevin Correia with the opportunity to start again.
“It keeps guys in play in lieu of something negative happening,” Hurdle said. “You need to keep the arms fresh with the guys we’ve got. They gave us the chance to get Kevin back in because you don’t know the volume of opportunities you’re going to get as the long man out of the pen. You look at Jeff Locke. He had a game against [Arizona]. Hasn’t gotten one since then. It keeps them sharp. It keeps them engaged.”
“It just keeps that extra guy in play. For some guys, that extra day in-between right now can be very beneficial until we recalibrate at the end of this stretch right here. We will more than likely revert back to the five-man.”
So who is out? Hurdle said they are having conversations on who would be the one to move into the bullpen. The starting staff has seen its struggles lately, so it could mean it’s not necessarily Kevin Correia moving back into long relief for the club.
Correia is coming off an outing last night where he allowed six runs (five earned) over five innings, but his previous start before that on the 8th was the last quality start from any of the Pirates starters. A.J. Burnett continues to the be the club’s staff ace with an 2.58 ERA since the All-Star break. Wandy Rodriguez, who the Bucs acquired at the trade deadline, has seen some recent struggles, but the veteran will remain in the rotation. Erik Bedard has posted a 3.70 ERA since the break, having some up and down outings.
The bigger concerns are from Correia, Jeff Karstens and James McDonald.
Karstens has a decent ERA since the break, 3.89 ERA, but he said after the last start that his struggles have come from his curveball, which was his out pitch and reason for his successful 2011 season. Karstens said he was going to tinker with during his side work to get back on track. McDonald has shown sequences of getting back to his pre-All-Star form, where he shined with just a 2.37 ERA, but has an 8.71 mark since. The right-hander will have an extra bullpen session between starts to make some adjustments with pitching coach Ray Searage in hopes of getting him back on track.
“There’s conversation going on,” Hurdle said. “What you like to have, what needs to happen and what will happen, they can all be different right now.”
“We’ve got six to choose from. And it gets down to this point in time that you want to get the guys out there that you feel are going to be the most aggressive, throw strikes, and make teams beat them with the bat. All those things are in consideration moving forward.”