The Pittsburgh Pirates designated Wandy Rodriguez for assignment on Thursday, thus ending his career with the Pirates. Rodriguez came to the Pirates in 2012 in a trade that sent Triple A All-Star left-handed pitcher Rudy Owens, left-hander Colton Cain and outfielder Robbie Grossman to the Astros.
Rodriguez performed admirably for the Pirates in his limited starts for the ballclub in 2012 but was plagued by injuries for most of the 2013 and part of the 2014 season. In five starts this season, Rodriguez is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. Rodriguez last appeared for the Pirates on Wednesday night after he let up six runs in the second inning to blow a 4-0 Pirates lead.
Now that Rodriguez is gone what will the Pirates do?
Expect AAA pitcher Brandon Cumpton to be called back up to the majors to fill the void in the rotation. Cumpton has shown great potential in limited starts for the team. In 2013 he started five games and earned a 2-1 record with a 2.05 ERA. In two starts this season, Cumpton has acquired a 4.26 ERA through 12.2 innings of work.
Cumpton will join Gerrit Cole and Edison Volquez as the only starting pitchers who are looking to be capable of carrying their weight in this rotation.
Starters Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton have combined to go 0-9 with ERAs of 4.86 and 3.45 respectively. If both of them continue to struggle they will open themselves up to the possibility of being replaced by former national league All-Star pitcher Jeff Locke who is in AAA right now.
Locke has made seven starts for the Indians this season and has gone 2-1 with a 3.92 ERA. These numbers are not as impressive as Cumpton’s AAA stats. Cumpton has made six starts and has acquired a 4-1 record with a 1.35 ERA.
Providing that Locke gets his ERA under 3.50 it would be hard to keep him locked up in AAA if Morton and Liriano continue to struggle.
Another pitching prospect to keep an eye out for is 23-year-old Casey Saddler. The righty has achieved a 5-1 record with a 2.22 ERA in AAA this season and he would be someone else that would be difficult to pass up if he continues to succeed in the minors.
The bottom line is the way that the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team’s pitching is looking right now is not going to be good enough to make them competitive in the national league central. Hurdle and the front office promised that there would be changes after a turbulent start to the season and with former Astros ace Wandy Rodriguez out of the rotation it seems that Hurdle has reached his patience with his struggling pitching staff.
Hopefully the designation of Rodriguez proves to be enough motivation for the rest of the struggling starters, but if it is not the Pirates certainly have options in the minor leagues for guys that could come and make a difference at the major league level.