Kyle McPherson expected to start this season in Triple-A back in April, but instead the Pirates' 2011 minor league pitcher of the year will make his 2012 debut with the Curve on Saturday.
McPherson suffered from shoulder inflammation late in spring training and had to stay behind in Bradenton, Fla., to do his rehab. He's been on a throwing program, and Curve pitching coach Jeff Johnson expects him to be able to throw anywhere from 75-90 pitches Saturday at Binghamton.
"I think he's full go," Johnson said. "He's pitched five innings a couple times, or at least once, in Florida, so we're going to push it a little bit."
McPherson, 24, had a stellar 2011 season. He opened by going 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 12 starts for high-A Bradenton, then was 8-5 with a 3.02 ERA in 16 starts for the Curve. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was a phenomenal 60-to-6 at Bradenton and a very good 82-to-21 for Altoona.
The Pirates rewarded him with their minor league pitcher of the year honor and a spot on the 40-man roster.
Had he not been injured late in the spring, McPherson would have moved up to Triple-A to start this year.
The Pirates' plan for him with the Curve is "to come here and get some work, make sure that he's OK, do what he needs to do so he's ready to get [to Triple-A]," Johnson said.
The Curve will have to make a corresponding move in their rotation with the addition of McPherson. Right-hander Shairon Martis originally was scheduled to start Saturday.
Curve fans probably shouldn't expect to see Jameson Taillon in Altoona any time soon since the prized pitching prospect has endured major struggles of late at high-A Bradenton.
Taillon, the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft, allowed eight earned runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings Wednesday night against Fort Myers.
The 20-year-old right-hander got off to a strong start this season, but his last six outings have to be a concern for the Pirates. He's given up 28 earned runs in 31 innings (8.13 ERA) in those starts, raising his season ERA to 4.52.