The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Wednesday night to win the third game of a four game series. This loss marked another shaky start for Charlie Morton, who allowed three runs in six innings.
The Pirates have been inconsistent thus far into the season. With a record of 9-13, their pitching has been the main issue thus far. The starting pitchers have a combined 3-10 record while Edison Volquez is the only starter with a sub-three ERA.
Volquez made another strong start on Tuesday, pitching for seven innings while only allowing two runs off of five hits. Volquez seems to have made a strong case for himself to be a lock in the rotation for the Pirates in his first two starts. Granted, it is a small sample size, but with a 1.93 ERA, Volquez looks close to his old form.
Starter Wandy Rodriguez has been the worst starter so far. The left-handed pitcher has posted a 7.65 ERA while pitching 20 innings. On Tuesday, he was placed on the 15 day disabled list with inflammation in his right knee. His absence leaves a void in the starting rotation that needs to be filled prior to his scheduled Thursday start.
As for who will replace Rodriguez in the starting rotation while he is out it is unclear. Many fans have been pushing for Jameson Tallion to get a chance. However, Tallion is not quite ready, and rushing him up would stunt his development if he does not succeed. He is 1-3 with a 3.89 ERA in AAA Indianapolis and has not look too impressive at this point in the season. The Pirates could look at pitchers from their bullpen to fill the void in their rotation.
Relievers Jeanmar Gomez and Stolmy Pimetentel both have experience as starters and could be short-term replacements if Rodriguez is able to resume pitching following his time on the disabled list.
Another a solid option to fill Rodriguez’s spot is AAA starter Brandon Cumpton. The 24 year-old right-handed pitcher has posted a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings of work thus far for the Indianapolis Curve. Last season, in five starts with the Pirates, Cumpton was 2-1 with an impressive 2.05 ERA. He should be the option to replace Rodriguez and we should know soon.
If Cumpton is called up to the major leagues and makes the start on Thursday, he will have the opportunity to prove himself as a worthy long-term replacement for Rodriguez. If he continues to have the same success that he had last season, you can expect the Pirates to keep him in the starting rotation until he falters. He seems to possess great potential to be a middle of the rotation pitcher.
Tomorrow’s game with the Reds is crucial to this Pirates baseball team. They sit at 9-13 and are in danger of dropping another series to the Reds. While this team is not as talented as last year’s there is no reason to think that with the right rotation the Pirates can’t right the ship and put together another winning season.
The Pirates take on the Reds at 12:35 tomorrow.