Bucs’ pitching depth about to be tested?

We’ve been hearing a lot about the Pirates’ cache of backed-up pitching talent in the Minors. Soon, we might be seeing it.

If initial reports are true that Charlie Morton, upon a doctor’s visit after pain flared in his elbow during a bullpen session on Sunday, was told that he might need Tommy John surgery, the Bucs are suddenly looking at two holes in the back end of their rotation. Jeff Karstens’ almost-finished rehab from shoulder inflammation was recently set back by a hip flexor issue.

Add Brad Lincoln’s unconvincing response to a chance to start and Kevin Correia’s ongoing struggles, and you’ve got three dependable starters (A.J. Burnett, Erik Bedard, James McDonald) and two hold-your-breaths.

The leading lifelines at Indianapolis?

Rudy Owens jumps out, with his 2.29 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 79 innings. Another left-hander, Justin Wilson, has a 3.80 ERA in 13 starts while showing good putaway stuff (68 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings).

A darkhorse could be Rick VandenHurk, who has considerable Major League experience — he was signed as a free agent in April after having split Spring Training with the Blue Jays and the Indians — and has won all four of his starts with the Indians. The 27-year-old righty has a 1.14 ERA.

One guy out of the picture, contrary to what I speculated about just a few days ago, is veteran left-hander Jo Jo Reyes. He’s got great numbers at Indy (5-1, 2.05 ERA in eight starts) — but has been on the disabled list since late May. 


You didn’t mention Jeff Locke. Any thoughts to him coming up, pretty good numbers in Indy and he got his feet wet the end of last year.

Yep, Locke definitely belongs in the conversation.

According to an article on insidepittsburghsports.com Brad Lincoln and Kevin Correia are both on the chopping block with each getting one more outing. If the struggle they are reporting that they will be moved to the bullpen which could make room for both Rudy Owens and Jeff Locke. The question is if the team is not going to demote either player (and I see no reason to demote Lincoln he has pitched well from the pen) who is going to make the trip to Indy to make room for the new starters?

We were tested back in 1971 too and then Bob Johnson whom we acquired in the off-season from the Royals threw the game of his life — a shutout against the Giants in the NLCS.

A general comment from this reader — Tom, I very much appreciate your erudite writing on the Bucs. You are greatly entertaining, and thought-provoking. Thanks for the quality writing.

Thanks, Buc – really appreciate that. As far as this Blog goes, I wish I had time to deal with it more. Between Pirates.com and the rest of the social media orbit, it often gets left out.

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