Wandy Rodriguez went on the disabled list today, meaning the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to need a starting pitcher on Thursday. Jeff Locke made his start tonight for Indianapolis, so that starter won’t be him. Casey Sadler is expected to make his start tomorrow for the Indians, which would remove him from the running.
The two players who are the top candidates for the starting role are Stolmy Pimentel and Brandon Cumpton.
Pimentel is in the majors, and currently has a 1.29 ERA in seven innings. That’s a bit misleading, since he also has a 7.7 K/9 and a 5.1 BB/9 ratio in that stretch. Pimentel’s average velocity has also been down, at 90.8 MPH this year, compared to 95.4 MPH last year in the majors. Both represent small sample sizes. In 2014, Pimentel has only thrown in three games. The first game he hit 95 MPH. The next two he was in the 88-92 MPH range.
All around, we’re dealing with small sample sizes here. But Pimentel has been prone to inconsistent performances in the past. Not so much with his stuff, but definitely with his control. He’s got the upside to be a starter in the majors, possibly taking a rotation spot next year.
His stuff this year could be impacted by the way he has been used. Pimentel has almost been treated like a Rule 5 pick. He threw four frames in an extra innings game on April 2nd. His next appearance was on April 16th, when he threw one inning. He went two innings on the 18th. That kind of schedule definitely could lead to the issues with his stuff and control. It also could eliminate him from consideration for the start, since he probably isn’t stretched out enough to make a full start at this point.
As for Cumpton, he is scheduled to make his next start on Wednesday. The Pirates could delay him one day, and have him make that start in the majors. In his last outing, Cumpton threw seven shutout innings, allowing five hits, no walks, and striking out five. On the season he has a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings, with an 11:3 K/BB ratio.
Cumpton doesn’t have the best upside. What he does have is a history of getting the job done. He did well in his brief time in the majors last year, and has performed well in every stage of his career. He’s also a guy who could be a rotation candidate in 2015. So just like Pimentel, the Pirates could benefit from seeing what Cumpton can do with a few starts in the majors this year.
Right now it looks like Cumpton is the best option. Pimentel would be an intriguing option, but with the way he has been used early in the season, and the small sample of control and velocity concerns, it doesn’t make sense to start him. If Pimentel was the only option, it might be different. But the Pirates have several other options, and one of them — Cumpton — has strong numbers and almost lines up perfectly with Rodriguez’s next start. That’s why Brandon Cumpton makes the most sense to take over for Wandy Rodriguez.
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