Young pitchers receiving rests
PITTSBURGH – The Pirates are revising their starting rotation to protect a couple of rookie pitchers’ innings counts.
Jameson Taillon and Chad Kuhl will each miss a start as the team tries to limit their innings.
Drew Hutchison will make his Pirates debut on Saturday against Cincinnati in place of Kuhl. Gerrit Cole will return from the disabled list on Monday in Philadelphia to fill Taillon’s spot.
“Basically we’re taking care of the innings pitched,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
Taillon is pitching competitively this season after missing two years with injuries. He has thrown 149 innings this year between the major and minor leagues. That’s a career high.
Kuhl pitched Monday and was ineffective. After that game, Hurdle said he thought Kuhl was showing signs of fatigue. Kuhl has pitched 124 innings this season, just nine innings short of his career high in pro baseball.
Hurdle said Trevor Williams had been a candidate for Saturday’s start. However, Williams pitched three innings against St. Louis on Wednesday and got the win in his major league debut.
Hutchison was acquired from Toronto in the Francisco Liriano trade. The Pirates are projecting him for a spot in the 2016 rotation.
Hurdle said he expected Taillon and Kuhl would skip one start, then return to the rotation.
Bell in right
Josh Bell made his first start in right field Thursday against the Reds.
Bell was drafted as an outfielder, but the Pirates have been trying to convert him to first base. His previous major league action has been exclusively at first.
When Bell went back to Class AAA Indianapolis after his major league debut, the Pirates started working him in the outfield again.
“He played once a week and took fly balls with one group every day,” Hurdle said. “It was just re-acclimating him with first step, drop back, routes, throws to bases. I don’t think they had to knock a whole lot of rust off. We wanted to get his bat back in the lineup and thought this might be a creative way to do it.”
The Pirates said they re-introduced Bell to the outfield with the idea of increasing his versatility.
They could also be testing him there with the idea of trading Andrew McCutchen in the offseason. The 2017 season is the last on McCutchen’s contract, although the team holds an option for 2018.
Bell played six innings in right and did not have a ball hit his way on Thursday.
No start for Glasnow
Highly-regarded prospect Tyler Glasnow is in the bullpen for now.
Glasnow made two starts before shoulder discomfort landed him on the disabled list. Hurdle indicated the Pirates are looking for a way to ease him back into major league competition.
He said Glasnow could pitch a couple of innings in relief. Glasnow would start the inning.
“It would give him an opportunity to pitch in a less open-ended, more controlled situation,” Hurdle said. “Maybe some shorter looks initially, just to fine tune some things and get case specific. Nail the delivery, the release point, because things have kind of gone hot and cold.”
Hurdle said the St. Louis Cardinals often break young starters into the major leagues by having them pitch out of the bullpen initially. He said that practice was common when he was a player in the 1970s.