PITTSBURGH — The Pirates will either skip or push back the next start of Steven Brault as the team moves forward with a new plan for the starting rotation.
Thanks to the team’s doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers last week, Nick Kingham will make a spot start on Sunday. That means that Saturday’s starter Trevor Williams can come back on regular rest on Thursday, bumping Brault from his usual spot.
“We’ve got three off days coming up and if you’re going to prioritize who you want to pitch, Trevor is a priority right now, based on the numbers and what he’s been able to do out on the mound,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
Beyond that, Hurdle said the Pirates are “still working through some things.” Their options are pretty clear.
Joe Musgrove is expected to make his first rehab start on Tuesday and is projected to be available to return to the major on or about May 22. Between now and then, the Pirates will need a fifth starter just twice — Friday in Milwaukee and at home on May 20.
Sooner or later, Brault is going to be moving to the bullpen, so he may as well get a head start on his new role now, with Kingham able to pitch Friday, go down to the minors, and come back up in time to pitch once more before Musgrove returns.
With Kingham added to the roster, Enny Romero was designated for assignment, leaving the Pirates an arm short of their status quo of eight in the bullpen. Brault would make eight and after Friday, the Pirates could call up a fifth bench player or add a ninth man to the bullpen. Mark that down as the most like scenario, though a tough start by Kingham could throw a wrench into that plan.
KICKING IT UP A NOTCH
Francisco Cervelli’s two-RBI night on Saturday included his fourth homer of the season. He had just five all of 2017, and the change is about more than his new-found health.
Gm 28: ☠ (16-11) vs. 🔴🐦 (15-11)
P 👑🍖 (MLB Debut) vs. Luke Weaver (4.85 ERA)
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) April 29, 2018
Today's #STLCards lineup (4/29):
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) April 29, 2018
It’s freaking freezing, Mr. Bigglesworth. Weather.com predicts a game-time temperature of 40 degrees, with 12 MPH winds whipping in from left-center field providing a wind chill of 32 degrees. At least it’s dry.