Rotation — Who’s in? Who’s out?; Alvarez Bumped to Fifth

How the Pirates rotation works out is an interesting topic this morning.

What we do know is that Jeff Karstens will not be making a rehab start today. The right-hander is in Pittsburgh, but was unavailable to speak to media today. Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle yanked him from his scheduled rehab assignment and said that he will make a start on the roadtrip. When is still in question. Could it be today? Although Kevin Correia is in the lineup, there have been rumors that the club is pushing to trade him. Could Karstens start tomorrow in Philly and bump the rest of the rotation a day? Hurdle said he will provide more information after the game and tomorrow on how they plan on shuffling the starting rotation.

“He’s not going to Indy,” Hurdle said. “He’s here. We’re going to have him make a start on this road trip. We’ll let you know accordingly, but we are going to have him travel with us and he is going to make a start on the road trip.”

After Brad Lincoln’s performance last night, I can’t imagine the club would remove him from starting. Although it was just one really impressive start after scuffling his three previous, the Pirates continued to give him ample looks as a starter instead of calling up Jeff Locke or Rudy Owens from Triple-A for a spot start. Lincoln told me he didn’t know yet if he will start on Thursday in Philly. As of now, the probables set for the Philly series is: Erik Bedard Monday, James McDonald Tuesday, A.J. Burnett Wednesday, and Lincoln Thursday. That however, will shuffle with Karstens.

“We’re going to take care of one thing at a time and pitch it one day at a time as we go out,” Hurdle said on Lincoln’s status. “There will be more information following today’s game probably for you and tomorrow.”


— Neil Walker is getting a scheduled day off today, Hurdle said. He’s healthy. Walker is batting just .167 over his last three days.

“If you look at the games played, he’s played more games here than anybody this season. He’s getting a day,” Hurdle said.

— Because Walker is out of the Lineup, Hurdle bumped Pedro Alvarez to the fifth spot. That, however, isn’t expected to stay that way. Hurdle explained that it was more to provide Alvarez more protection with Casey McGehee batting cleanup and Jones behind him hitting sixth.

“Protection No. 1 for Pedro,” Hurdle said. “Left-handers if you look at the numbers, this is a reverse split guy. You want to keep your left-handers that you think will be able to do some damage in the lineup. I do anyway. Protecting anybody else besides Jones. McGehee’s had some more success than Jones has against Verlander. I just thought that would be better protection for Pedro to have Jones behind him. I don’t plan on moving him up to fifth for an extended period of time. This is basically because of Walker’s absence as much as anything.”


— A few arms will not be available from the bullpen today. Jason Grilli and Jared Hughes, Hurdle said are definitively down. Lefty Tony Watson could be situational, leaving Doug Slaten as the possible lone left-hander. Only Joel Hanrahan and Hughes have pitched on back-to-back days this season, so Hurdle said that Watson was still in conversation.

“We’re deciding about Watty, but Grilli and Hughes is unavailable today,” Hurdle said.


Pirates lineup: Alex Presley LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Andrew McCutchen CF, Casey McGehee 1B, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Garrett Jones RF, Clint Barmes SS, Michael McKenry C, Kevin Correia RHP

Tigers lineup: Austin Jackson CF, Quinton Berry RF, Miguel Cabrera 3B, Prince Fielder 1B, Delmon Young LF, Alex Avila C, Jhonny Peralta SS, Ryan Raburn 2B, Justin Verlander RHP