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The Pirates could send James McDonald to the bullpen

Aug 14, 2012, 9:32 PM EDT

James McDonald AP AP

After James McDonald was knocked around for seven runs over 4 2/3 innings against the Padres last Friday, I speculated that the Pirates could move him to the bullpen while giving Kevin Correia another extended look in the starting rotation. It appears that is exactly what is being considered right now.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said that the club will “more than likely” return to a five-man rotation next week after they return from a six-game road trip to St. Louis and San Diego. Correia was demoted to the bullpen following the acquisition of Wandy Rodriguez last month, but the Pirates recently instituted a six-man rotation while playing 20 games in the span of 20 days.

Hurdle said “there is conversation going on” about who will go to the bullpen, but with Rodriguez, A.J. Burnett, Jeff Karstens and Erik Bedard pretty solid locks to remain in the rotation, the fifth spot is expected to come down to either Correia or McDonald.

McDonald posted a fantastic 2.37 ERA and 100/31 K/BB ratio over 17 starts during the first half, but his hold on a rotation spot is suddenly tenuous thanks to an ugly 8.71 ERA and 26/21 K/BB ratio over 31 innings in six starts since the All-Star break. With the Pirates in the thick of the playoff race, they can’t afford to wait much longer for him to turn it around. He’ll have one more chance to make a favorable impression this Friday against the Cardinals.

  1. johnnyb1976 - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    Pirates are fading fast

  2. hushbrother - Aug 14, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    It’s looking more and more like Huntington’s moves at the deadline aren’t paying off. Wandy Rodriguez is ok, but is he an impact starter? Travis Snider may become a solid player, but he’s more a kind of guy they would have taken a chance on in the past, hoping he’ll turn into a good player, rather than someone they know will make a difference now. And Gaby Sanchez and Chad Qualls are certainly nothing special. Sanchez is a friggin’ GIDP machine.

    What the Pirates needed most was an on base guy (Daniel Nava?) and some depth in the bullpen. I think Huntington failed to address either of those areas adequately.

  3. heyzeus143 - Aug 14, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    Doesn’t matter – the wheels are falling off yet again, go steelers, thanks for the tease again buccos, F .500, don’t ya play to win!!!

    • bmoresteal - Aug 15, 2012 at 8:04 AM

      You do realize they are 12 games over .500 right? What do you expect a team that hasn’t had a winning season in 19 years to go from worst to Word Series Champions? God, you are a bandwagon fan. Go back to rooting for the Red Sox and leave the real Pirates fans alone to enjoy a fun, hard playing, young team. Regardless if they make the playoffs or not this team is has been nothing short but a blast to watch and root for.

    • brucewaynewins - Aug 15, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      As a Reds fan who has sat through a sub .500 team that teased us most years for a decade and finally to see his team show promise I can’t believe you’d give up on your Pirates. You’re above .500 right now and in the driver’s seat to get a wildcard spot in the playoffs!

      So let see 12 games above .500 and you currently hold one of the 2 wildcard playoff spots after 19 years of playing sub .500 baseball.

      You’re team can still :
      1. Make the playoffs
      2. Finish with a winning record

      And you wanna give up? Turn in your fan card now. It’s not over till your mathematically eliminated. Until that happens you should always believe your team can do it.

  4. panktics - Aug 14, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    Check out my sports blog at

  5. xmatt0926x - Aug 15, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    It’s a shame they didn’t do more to “go for it” at the trade deadline. Everyone likes to cheer the teams who don’t fall into the “trap” of trading cheap prospects for big contract players but at what point does the hoarding of prospects end and the attempts at winning something begin? I’m not a Pirates fan but I have been rooting for them to win the last few years and I’m sure the actual Pirates fans are ready to start going for it. It is starting to feel like the slide has begun. It’s a shame.

  6. agc99 - Aug 15, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    It’s already to late. The wheels are coming off the wagon.

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