Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pitching Decisions Fast Approaching

Clint Hurdle told the media during the pre game gabfest that Jeff Karstens won't be making another rehab start, but will climb the bump for the Bucs during the upcoming Philly series. The rotation will likely get pushed back a day for some mid-season maintenance.

Kevin Correia and Brad Lincoln aren't scheduled to pitch in Philadelphia, so he won't be bumping them immediately. But...

Could be Bad Brad is headed back to the pen, or perhaps Pittsburgh is getting some feelers on Correia, who is being shopped around. One of them has to go for JK, and this may be a way to buy an extra couple of days to decide which direction to take.

While Lincoln threw extremely well against Detroit yesterday, he has the potential to be a dependable back end reliever. With Juan Cruz on shaky ground lately, it gives them an option beside Jared Hughes for late game, high leverage situations until Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan make the scene. It would also bolster the pen if Hanny becomes a trade target in July, as will the impending return of Chris Leroux.

Correia's not been as bad as folk believe - after all, he is the five man in the rotation, pitching to a 4.21 ERA - but he is in the final year of his deal and blocking some youngsters at Indy. Erik Bedard is in the same boat as a rent-an-arm, and he should be dangled as trade bait next.

With Charlie Morton out, the depth isn't quite as plush as it was before. But with Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke, Rick VandenHurk and Justin Wilson all looking like viable MLB mid-to-back end starters (and that's what they'd be replacing) there are still plenty of options, especially with Gerrit Cole on a fast track with his potential MLB arrival date perhaps just a year away.

That's probably the main reason that the youngsters are still cooling their heels in AAA. For the Bucs to build any value for Correia and Bedard, they have to trot them out every fifth day. We think that by August, some of the Indy gang will be trading in their Tribe unis for jerseys with Pittsburgh across the chest. Whether that's good or bad in the short term is debatable, but it's absolutely necessary to throw them in the fire and see what the team has for the long run.

The FO has a lot of decisions to make over the next month, and for once, it's nice to see that they'll be in a position of strength when drawing up their plans.

No comments: