The Pittsburgh Pirates have activated James McDonald from the 60 day disabled list and designated him for assignment today. They have also recalled Brandon Cumpton from Indianapolis.

James McDonald hasn’t pitched in the majors since May, going on the DL with inflammation and tendonitis in his right rotator cuff. He has made 11 rehab appearances in the minors since then, spread over two different stints. McDonald has not pitched well, posting a 6.55 ERA in 33 innings, with a .305 BAA and 15 walks. He wasn’t pitching well before the injury either, going 2-2, 5.76 in six starts with the Pirates. He last pitched Thursday night in Indianapolis’ playoff game, throwing two no-hit innings, though he did walk two batters and half of his 26 pitches were balls.

Cumpton will be able to pitch tonight, though he threw eight innings on Wednesday night in a loss to Durham. He has made four starts for the Pirates and pitched well, going 1-1, 2.78 in 22.2 innings. He finished the minor league season with a 6-8, 3.62 record in 131.2 innings, posting a very impressive 2.43 GO/AO ratio.

UPDATE 5:50 PM: Thoughts from Tim Williams…

This looks like the end of McDonald’s time with the Pirates. It’s hard to believe that about 14 months ago there was a debate over whether he was a top of the rotation pitcher. Now he’s probably looking at an off-season where his best chance at a roster spot will be a non-roster invitee. I like McDonald, and wouldn’t mind seeing the Pirates take a chance on him as an NRI. If he doesn’t make the team, they could send him to Triple-A to get some work, and use him as a depth option. As we’ve seen this year, you have never have too much pitching. Also, he is only a little over a year removed from some impressive numbers, so there would be some upside.

As for Cumpton, he’ll provide the Pirates with another long relief option. He struggled in early August, but bounced back with two great starts in his final three outings to end the season. As John pointed out, he also threw eight innings in the playoffs this week, so he might not be available right away. I’m surprised that Wandy Rodriguez wasn’t activated, since Indianapolis is now done. The Pirates could have Rodriguez pitch another rehab start with West Virginia or Jamestown. Both teams have the opportunity to advance in the playoffs tonight. Rodriguez went three innings in his first rehab start with Indianapolis.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I had forgotten that JMAC was in his first year of arbitration. Good arm or not, no way Pirates keep him, facing second year of arbitration costs. He is making $3 million this year, you can find a lot of good arms out the for $5 million next year.

  2. Mike C., that is my question. Ian Snell (Oquendo) was not a surprise head case, Paul Alexander let that slip long before it became obvious to everyone. Wonder what it was with McDonald? Pirates don’t just give arms like this away. When you have Kyle Farnsworth and Ryan Reid on your 40 man, you have room for a great upside arm that nearly made the All-Star game the year before.

    Not critical of the decision, just really curious what other issues will come to light down the road.

    • I think it’s important to note that McDonald never improved his pitching he regressed – not in terms of results – but in terms of stuff. At times he was 95 on the fastball with a good curve and a potentially dominate change; However he never embraced the change, he lost velocity on the fastball (92-93), and his curve was inconsistent. IMO, he needs to get in shape in the off-season to maintain velocity and rediscover the change that made batters look so foolish early in his tenure with the bucs.

  3. Do you think this ends the September call ups? I was thinking Reid and d’Arnaud would come up but d’Arnaud wouldn’t be used much with Marte as a pinch runner.

    • james reminds me of ian snell, a name not many here remember fondly.
      both had good fastballs plus above avg stuff.
      both were maddenly inconsistnent and both had mental issues neither could fix.
      he’ll get one more chance, hopefully in aaa, not another team

  4. I was wondering that myself. Is he eligible for arbitration then if he signs with the Astros per say? Ironic though. Isn’t this exactly the type of guy the Pirates would take a chance on? I guess that’s how baseball works but it’s hard to reconcile the first half of 2012 vs. he can no longer get anyone out. Maybe that’s the mental aspect of pitching. And if this guy figures it out somewhere else good for him. Kind of like Brandon Moss. I’m happy for him Moss. But count your blessings that the Pirates are a team where the leash is shorter and we don’t send the Andy LaRoches out there because we hope something clicks.

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