Friday, August 10, 2012

Bucs To Use Six Man Rotation One More Time

Clint Hurdle announced after the game that the rotation next time around will be AJ Burnett, Erik Bedard, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald.

Well. That presents a couple of not so by-the-book scenarios. The beleaguered bullpen could try to get through the week a man short, or Hurdle could flip a bench player to reach their full compliment of pitchers. To complicate matters, Jared Hughes and Jason Grilli are both being monitored because of dead arm issues. Oh, and did we mention that pushes Burnett's start back a day? It may end up not that big of a deal, but keeping him on a five game schedule certainly plays to the Pirates' advantage - and the bullpens, too, as the staff's top inning-eater.

The bullpen has been a ball of confusion since the trade deadline. Brad Lincoln offered a lot of flexibility, being able to both go multiple innings or work set up; Chad Qualls was picked up to replace him, but he's more a middle reliever (although the Bucs have plugged him in at the back end). KC was moved to the pen as the long guy, but has appeared just once in relief since the Rodriguez trade, being used as the extra starter. 

Because of that, Jeff Locke, a AAA starter, was brought up as a long man. Juan Cruz has been out but should be back soon; Indy closer Bryan Morris is also a potential set up arm. Justin Wilson, a Tribe starter, is another candidate as both a swing-and-miss arm that can go for a couple of innings if need be.

Dejan Kovacevich of the Tribune Review suggested swapping out the roles of J-Mick and KC until McDonald gets his mechanics squared away, though we think the FO will be loathe to go that route. So there are a lot of options available to the Buc brass.

But the pitching has to return to a sense of normalcy; the stretch run is really not the time to be juggling roles. It's something the Pirates have to address soon, and not by day-to-day, stop-gap measures if they're to remain relevant for the next few weeks.

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