Pirates Notebook: McPherson and Wilson Shine in Debuts; Upcoming Rotation Set

McPherson and Wilson Shine in Debuts

by Tim Williams

After yesterday’s 19-inning game depleted the bullpen, and made Wandy Rodriguez unavailable for today’s start, the Pittsburgh Pirates opted to make a few roster moves to bring up some help from Indianapolis. The Pirates called up left-hander Justin Wilson and right-hander Kyle McPherson, and both made their Major League debuts tonight.

Neither player started, with Kevin Correia getting the nod there, despite throwing two innings yesterday. Correia gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits in 4.1 innings. Two of the runs came in the first, followed by one in the second. He was replaced by Tony Watson in the fifth inning, who stranded two runners by getting the final two outs of the inning.

Then it was time for McPherson and Wilson.

McPherson looked great, especially when you consider he only has two starts above Double-A. His fastball was 93-95, touching 96 MPH on at least one occasion. The pitch had good downward movement, making it difficult for opposing hitters to hit. He struck out two in his first inning of work, while giving up one hit, which was a grounder through the right-side of the infield. In his second inning, McPherson made quick work of the Padres, putting them down in order.

His fastball was working well today, and his curveball also looked good, with a lot of drop that fooled a few batters. McPherson missed a few times outside with his curve, struggling a bit to control it. He didn’t throw many changeups, throwing a few in the second inning of work against left-handers. His command of the change was a little off, but he was able to escape the inning without any damage.

Wilson also had an impressive outing. Normally working in the 93-95 MPH range with his fastball, Wilson started out in the low-90s, pitching out of the stretch. After a few pitches he moved up to 92-93 MPH. But Wilson didn’t need the velocity. He struck out the first two batters he faced, getting Yonder Alonso looking for his first career strikeout. Wilson then gave up two hits with two outs, but battled back to strike out Everth Cabrera for the final out of the inning.

It’s unknown whether McPherson and Wilson will remain with the team. McPherson was originally set to start for Indianapolis tonight, while Wilson was scheduled to throw tomorrow. They both showed they could handle the majors, which means even if they both go back down, we should expect to see them as September callups.


Rotation Set for the Next Two Series 

by Kristy Robinson

The Pirates rotation has been shuffling quite a bit recently. After Manager Clint Hurdle decided to revert back to a five-man rotation yesterday, the skipper was forced to use his slated Monday starter in the 19-inning marathon game on Sunday Wandy Rodriguez.

Instead, Hurdle went with Kevin Correia, who was originally slated to go back to the bullpen on Monday in San Diego. A.J. Burnett and James McDonald will round out the series against the Padres on Tuesday and Wednesday. The club has an off day on Thursday, but will send out Wandy Rodriguez on Friday, Jeff Karstens on Saturday, and Erik Bedard on Sunday against Milwaukee.


Injury Updates

by Kristy Robinson

Both Neil Walker (right pinky dislocation) and Travis Snider (hamstring) were in the starting lineup on Monday in San Diego.

For Walker, the second baseman made his first start since being removed from the game in the first inning on Wednesday at PNC Park after suffering a right pinky dislocation. Walker pinch-hit in the Pirates win on Sunday night in St. Louis from the left-side. The switch-hitter went 1-for-3 with a walk on the day.

Snider battled a hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup, and limited to pinch hitting duties for nearly a week. After being healthy, it looked as if Snider injured his groin last night in the game. After striking out swinging, the outfielder immediately grimaced and grabbed the groin area. He was then removed from the game. Snider’s injury fortunately was just a cramp. He was in the lineup on Monday and went 0-for-4, striking out four times.


19-Inning Stats

by Kristy Robinson

Yesterday the Pirates beat the Cardinals 6-3 in 19 innings, which was the club’s first win on the road in a 19-inning game since beating the Padres on August 25, 1979.

Pedro Alvarez broke a 3-3 tie to become the first player in Pirates history to hit a home run in the 19th inning or later. In addition, the last time the Pirates scored at least three runs in the 19th inning or later was July 31, 1912 at the Boston Braves (also three in the 19th) according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Michael McKenry has caught each of the team’s last two 19-inning games. In addition to yesterday, he was behind the plate for the club record 6 hour and 39 minute marathon in Atlanta last year on July 26. The last time a catcher caught every inning of a game that went at least 19 innings twice was Jason Varitek (August 1, 2000 and July 9, 2006 – both games were 19 innings). The last Pirate to catch two games of at least 19 innings was Ed Ott on August 25, 1979 and July 6, 1980.

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  • Bryan Graham

    I sure hope Cutch comes out of his funk soon and this isn’t a second half swoon like he had last season. Right now we basically have a right handed Pedro batthing third, not good.

  • buccotime57

    Should have started wilson or mcpherson….

    • Lee Young

      I am in wholehearted agreement with that statement!

      • Ian Rothermund

        Seconded. You have to be happy about the two of them going out and having such success from the gate. I’m sure Hurdle was talking about “positive experiences.”

  • F Lang

    Agreed. I would have started McPherson. Cutch k’d 7 times the last two games. Looks like he is trying to do too much like he did late last year. But a bigger problem is Barajas .190 in June, .149 in July, and a .334 OPS this month! Unacceptable. How can you continue to play a 36 year old catcher that is that bad? Accountability always comes up and Barajas is a good guy…but I think the fact he is AJ’s personal catcher is the only thing keeping him here.

  • PiratesFan

    I’d rather start McPherson or Wilson (but especially McPherson) instead of Bedard. McPherson seems like he could be a solid #3 starter, or possibly even #2.

    • john.alcorn

      I asked Matt Eddy at BA about him in the chat last week. He said yes he is a legit rotation candidate and his fastball and change are plus pitches that play up because of his excellent command.

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