Results tagged ‘ Daniel McCutchen ’

Game 36: Dodgers (16-20) @ Pirates (18-17)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates’ push over the .500 mark got me curious. Where, in the context of the previous 18 years, does this team fit in terms of its record through 35 games? In case you had a similar query, here are some numbers for you. Below, you’ll find the team’s record through its first 35 games (every year since 1993) and then the club’s end-of-season record.

1993: 17-18… finished 75-87
1994: 17-18… finished 53-61 (strike shortened)
1995:  13-22… finished 58-86 (strike shortened)
1996: 16-19… finished 73-89
1997: 19-16… finished 79-83
1998: 16-19… finished 69-93
1999: 18-17… finished 78-83
2000: 16-19… finished 69-93
2001: 13-22… finished 62-100
2002: 18-17… finished 72-89
2003: 14-21… finished 75-87
2004: 17-18… finished 72-89
2005: 16-19… finished 67-95
2006: 10-25… finished 67-95
2007: 15-20… finished 68-94
2008: 16-19… finished 67-95
2009: 14-21… finished 62-99
2010: 15-20… finished 57-105

As you’ll see, I’ve bolded the only three instances when the Pirates were above .500 heading into game No. 36. None of those teams ended the season with more than 79 wins. Do you think this 2011 squad can get to 82?

As for news and notes of the day…

  • A day after returning to the lineup after a few days off, Pedro Alvarez is back out. This has nothing to do with an injury, though. Alvarez confirmed he is fine, as did manager Clint Hurdle, who preferred Alvarez out against a lefty starter.
  • Right-hander Evan Meek is set to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday — this will be his first since landing on the DL. Meek, who said he felt great throwing from 120 feet today, is scheduled to throw a second bullpen in Milwaukee and then head out on a brief rehab assignment (probably two outings).  He has not yet been told where that rehab work will be.
  • Before the Pirates have to come up with a spot for Meek, they’ll have to make room for Jose Ascanio. That is, if the organization elects to bring him up. The Pirates have to decide tomorrow whether to call up Ascanio or risk losing him through waivers in an effort to assign him to Triple-A. The Pirates wanted Ascanio to make it through two innings in his rehab appearance on Monday, but the righty lasted just one (31 pitches). Not sure how much that will factor into the evaluation.
  • If Ascanio does join the Pirates, who goes? My guess would be Mike Crotta. Daniel Moskos is another possibility, though the Pirates have talked about the advantages of having two lefties. I think the club has to keep Daniel McCutchen because of the need for a long guy. That could make Crotta the odd man out.
  • Rehabbing right-hander Kevin Hart is also progressing. He is slated to throw live batting practice this week — another first. He’ll have at least two such sessions before being sent out to extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment.
  • Ryan Doumit earns his third straight start and deservedly so. His handprints have been all over the team’s recent success. He is batting .333 with three doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs in his last 15 games.
  • After watching a replay of Jose Tabata’s “catch” on Monday, Hurdle agreed that the ball bounced into the glove. Hurdle also shared his feelings about increasing the use of instant replay, and you can find more on those in today’s Pirates.com beat.
  • Tabata continues to struggles (1-for-12 in his last four games and 8-for-63 in his last 18) and Hurdle admitted he has had conversations about moving Tabata down in the order. The dilemma is finding a good No. 2 hitter to put in place of Tabata and then figuring out where the left fielder belongs further down in the order. Conversations are ongoing.
  • Both John Bowker and Andrew Lambo had two-run homers for Triple-A Indianapolis in a win on Monday. Something I neglected to mention a few days ago was that Andy Marte was assigned to extended Spring Training in order to open up a spot for Bowker on Indianapolis’ roster. Marte isn’t hurt, there is just no roster room for him on the Triple-A team.
  • It’s rare that I take a glance at the standings, but in case you’re curious — Pirates are in third place in the NL Central, two games behind the Cardinals. Cincinnati is second with a 19-16 record.
  • Pittsburgh has won seven of its last 10 games. No team in the Majors has done better in its most recent 10 games. 
  • Though he is 5-2 this season, Kevin Correia is still searching for that first home victory. Granted, he’s only had two starts at home this season — but both have been losses. He has a 6.94 ERA in those two games at PNC Park. In his career against the Dodgers, Correia is 1-2 with a 4.24 ERA (three starts).

Lineups:

PIRATES: A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), M. Diaz (RF), N. Walker (2B), S. Pearce (1B), R. Doumit (C), B. Wood (3B), R. Cedeno (SS), K. Correia (RHP)

DODGERS: J. Carroll (SS), A. Miles (2B), A. Ethier (RF), M. Kemp (CF), J. Uribe (3B), J. Loney (1B), R. Barajas (C), J. Sands (LF), T. Lilly (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Game 10: Rockies (5-2) @ Pirates (5-4)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

A beautiful day for baseball at PNC Park, where the Pirates have to win on Sunday to salvage a series split.

News and notes of the day…

  • Manager Clint Hurdle definitively said that the Pirates will not carry three catchers when Chris Snyder returns. That means that Jason Jaramillo is playing on borrowed time.  He will be the one sent down to Triple-A to make room for Snyder. One of the reasons for not going the three catcher route is because Ryan Doumit never had the opportunity to play right field this spring. He was going to get some work there beginning right about the time he ended up sidelined with an oblique strain.
  • Speaking of Snyder, his rehab assignment is going well with Class A Advanced Bradenton. He drove in six on Friday before striking out three times on Saturday. The important thing, though, is that he is healthy and having no issues with his back. Snyder is scheduled to catch nine innings again on Sunday. The Pirates have not made their timetable for Snyder’s return public.
  • The Pirates will turn to Daniel McCutchen on Sunday if the club needs someone in long relief.
  • Also available in the ‘pen for sure will be Joel Hanrahan and Mike Crotta. Paul Maholm is on call, as well, since this is his day to throw on the side. He could throw as many as two innings, if needed.
  • Asked about the way Saturday’s game had played out, Hurdle had this to offer… if the Pirates had tied the game in the ninth, Kevin Correia would have gone back out for a second inning of work. Hanrahan would have been the next option, followed by Maholm.
  • “It’s a flat-out gamble every time you do it,” Hurdle said of his decision to lift Doumit for a pinch runner on Saturday and use his only other catcher to finish the game. If there were a situation when the second Pirates catcher also had to leave the game, Steve Pearce and Matt Diaz would be the emergency options.
  • The Brewers will send out RHP Shawn Marcum, LHP Randy Wolf and LHP Chris Narveson out to start in the upcoming three-game series.
  • Righty Brad Lincoln will be making his rehab start with Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday. Expect him to be able to go about four innings (65 pitches) in the effort.

Lineups:

PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), L. Overbay (1B), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Doumit (C), G. Jones (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), J. McDonald (RHP)

ROCKIES: D. Fowler (CF), J. Herrera (2B), J. Giambi (1B), T. Tulowitzki (SS), S. Smith (RF), J. Lopez (3B), T. Wigginton (LF), C. Iannetta (C), J. Chacin (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Ohlendorf to DL; McCutchen recalled

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Pittsburgh has recalled right-hander Daniel McCutchen from Triple-A Indianapolis and placed Ross Ohlendorf on the disabled list with a right shoulder posterior strain. This isn’t much of a surprise, given that the Pirates had to get a pitcher up here after Friday’s 14-inning marathon.

McCutchen would give the Pirates a length option out of the bullpen on Saturday if Charlie Morton is unable to go deep. I suspect that Chris Resop, Garrett Olson and Jeff Karstens will all be unavailable after their workloads on Friday. Evan Meek is questionable due to right shoulder tightness. Once the clubhouse opens in a bit, more should be known about his status.

Ohlendorf’ left his start on Friday with soreness in the same area of his right shoulder that caused him to sit out the final 5-6 weeks in 2010. He said he doesn’t believe the injury is as serious this time, but the Pirates are going to have to wait and see on that one.

Manager Clint Hurdle should let us know later today who will step in to  fill Ohlendorf’s rotation spot, though my guess would be Karstens. He pitched well in relief of Ohlendorf on Friday and has shown an ability to step in and provide the team with quality starts in a pinch before.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 40: Pirates @ Rays; Bucs cut five

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates cut five players from big league camp on Friday morning, in turn dwindling the number of players still around to 36. That still means that 11 players will have to leave in the next week. But the roster is beginning to take shape with some clarity.

The following moves were made on Friday:

  • RHP Tyler Yates reassigned to Minor League camp
  • RHP Sean Gallagher reassigned to Minor League camp
  • RHP Daniel McCutchen optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis
  • INF Josh Fields reassigned to Minor League camp
  • C Wyatt Toregas reassigned to Minor League camp

Also, general manager Neal Huntington confirmed that lefty Joe Beimel will not be ready to begin the season with the Major League club. Beimel will throw another bullpen session this weekend, but that does not give him time to get enough innings in before next week’s season opener. Beimel will remain in Florida for extended Spring Training and could even pitch a bit in Indianapolis, if he still needs to build his innings count by the time the Minor League season begins.

With Beimel out of the Opening Day mix, the following relievers are competing for two open spots: Garrett Olson, Brian Burres, Chris Leroux and Mike Crotta.

Other morning news and notes…

  • Huntington said that the team has not yet finalized whether it will take two or three catchers north. A decision on that should come soon, Huntington added. The makeup of the bench really hinges on which way the Pirates go with this.
  • Before leaving McKechnie Field on Friday, Fields say he was unsure whether he’d report to Triple-A Indianapolis or ask for his release.
  • With Fields out of the mix for the corner utility bench spot, that leaves Steve Pearce and Andy Marte as the last two standing. Huntington said that there really is no scenario in which both Pearce and Marte make the club.
  • Brad Lincoln (right arm contusion) threw from a distance of 120 feet on Friday and said he felt fine. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday.
  • James McDonald remains scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Saturday.

On a side note, MLBlogs is changing its software (hopefully for the better) today, which means this blog is expected to be down during the afternoon hours. It might still be able to be accessed by you, but it won’t be able to be updated by me. Wanted to give you a head’s up so that you weren’t searching for anything new on here this afternoon. Once the update is done, I’ll get to learning the new program.

Lineups:

PIRATES: P. Ciriaco (CF), J. Rodriguez (SS), J. Bowker (LF), R. Doumit (C), S. Pearce (3B), M. Diaz (RF), A. Marte (1B), C. Wimberly (2B), C. Morton (RHP)

Pitchers: C. Morton, J. Hanrahan, J. Veras

RAYS: B. Zobrist (RF), E. Johnson (2B), E. Longoria (3B), M. Ramirez (DH), D. Johnson (1B), B.J. Upton (CF), K. Shoppach (C), R. Brignac (SS), S. Fuld (LF), J. Niemann (RHP)

Pitchers: J. Niemann

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Blue Jays 6, Pirates 4 (ss); Phillies 11, Pirates 4 (ss)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Fastball command came in spurts for starter Ross Ohlendorf on Saturday.

It wasn’t so good in the first inning, which saw the Phillies score four times on four hits and two walks. Ohlendorf was leaving too many pitches up — some for balls and some that were turned into basehits.

Ohlendorf made an effort to throw inside — particularly to left-handers — and fared so-so in the attempt. He admitted to too often throwing a hittable pitch with two strikes, and many of those mistakes were turned into basehits.

If there was some good news, it’s that not all of the five hits he allowed were really all that hard hit. A few groundballs found holes and another of the hits would have been an easy catch had John Bowker not lost it in the sun. Ohlendorf didn’t help his cause, either, with a fielding error.

“The results aren’t necessarily the box score,” Ohlendorf said. “It might be how hard they hit the ball. Like today, most of the hits I didn’t feel like were hit that hard. I definitely wish it would have gone better today. I threw a lot more pitches than I should have.”

Ohlendorf needed about 35 pitches to get through the first inning. He couldn’t come anywhere close to finishing four innings (as scheduled) as his pitch count was already near 60 after facing two hitters in the third. When Ohlendorf couldn’t retire either of those two hitters, he was taken out.

“My arm still feels great, and my stuff still feels good,” Ohlendorf said. “I’m definitely encouraged by that.”

***

For those who might have missed the late addition to the morning blog, catcher Chris Snyder was scratched from today’s game against the Blue Jays in Dunedin because of back soreness. Snyder received treatment on his back at McKechnie Field on Saturday afternoon, and the team is expected to update Snyder’s status on Sunday.

Right now, the club said Snyder is day-to-day. The Pirates better hope that the ailment doesn’t linger, as it already looks like the team is going to be without Ryan Doumit (strained right oblique) for a while.

Snyder, who last played on Wednesday, is 4-for-15 this spring.

***

Over in Dunedin, the Pirates blew a 4-1 lead on the way to a 6-4 loss. Rough days were had by Daniel McCutchen and Ramon Aguero, though I wasn’t at the game to give you an accurate report about exactly how rough those outings were. An extra-base hit off the wall and a ball lost in the sun show up the same in the box score, so I hesitate to read too much into the raw stats.

Most encouraging about the game in Dunedin, though, has to be the day had by Andrew McCutchen. One day after complaining of left wrist soreness, McCutchen returned to the lineup on Saturday. He doubled and scored in his first at-bat, only to outdo himself with a two-run blast his next time up.

The wrist apparently is just fine.

A few other random items that caught my attention from the game in Dunedin:

  • Lefty Jeff Locke threw 29 of his 41 pitches for strikes in his two-inning outing. He allowed one run on two hits and struck out three.
  • Manager Clint Hurdle had this to say about Locke throwing so many first-pitch strikes: “That’s one of the things we have not been doing well overall as a staff. We had a little glitch, bumped it up over 60 percent, closer to 65, then we went south. He came in there and filled up the zone. The first-pitch fastball strikes were impressive and the fact that he was finishing his fastball. He was working both sides and spun the ball pretty effectively. It was a good outing and fun to watch him today.”
  • With two hits, Corey Wimberly now has five hits in his last six at-bats. This comes after Wimberly started the spring 0-for-12.
  • Michael Crotta tossed another 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He has now not been scored upon in 6 1/3 spring innings.
  • With a single, outfielder Matt Diaz has now hit safely in five of his last six games.
  • Steve Pearce played third base again, entering the game to take over for Andy Marte in the bottom of the sixth.

***

Don’t forget to turn your clocks forward before you go to bed. The Pirates are going to have a late morning on Sunday, meaning that the daily morning blog won’t be posted so early. The clubhouse opens at 10:30 and the team is not taking batting practice. There will be some light fielding work before the game against the Red Sox.

On the main site tonight, you can read about Rudy Owens’ chances to be in the Pirates’ rotation by the end of the year. Also, there are notes about McCutchen’s wrist, James McDonald’s side and the four cuts the Pirates made prior to Saturday’s games.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Blue Jays 5, Pirates 0

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I’ve written plenty about James McDonald’s season goals. About how he talks about taking the team to a World Series. About how he wants opponents to fear the Pirates’ pitching staff. About how he needs to throw more first-pitch strikes.

Well, here’s a new one for you: McDonald is shooting for the number 10. That is, 10 hits for himself by the end of the year.

It seems a lofty goal for McDonald, who has accrued one hit in 33 career Major League plate appearances. But McDonald is serious when he talks about getting better on the offensive end.

He was legitimately bummed, too, that he did not get to bat Sunday, which was the first spring game the Pirates played without a DH. McDonald would have hit in the bottom of the third, but he had to be pulled with two out in the top half of the inning.

“I vowed that I would get at least 10 hits,” McDonald said. “If I can be decent at hitting and at least get my bunts down, I can help this team.”

I don’t think I can properly emphasize how much McDonald focuses on the team when he talks. His lofty personal goals all go back to wanting to help this club take steps forward. He has mentioned multiple times this spring that his goal is to win a World Series with the Pirates. And he is not at all being facetious.

***

The Pirates hadn’t been able to will a ball over to Corey Wimberly at short for days now, so much so that general manager Neal Huntington joked about it before Sunday’s game. Well, Wimberly finally got his chances on Sunday. And the outcome, as those of you who watched at home can attest to, wasn’t all that pretty.

On the first ball hit to him at short this spring, Wimberly sailed a throw over Josh Fields’ head at first base. The error eventually led to two unearned runs. Wimberly had another chance in the fifth and made a low throw over to first. The ball took a short hop just in front of Fields, who had to make a terrific pick to record the out.

The Pirates are intrigued by Wimberly’s speed, but it has been noted multiple times that the club has to carry a middle infielder who can play short well. That was the Pirates’ biggest concern with Wimberly coming in, and it’s a concern that has not been alleviated to this point.

It’s impossible to get into a player’s mind, but it sure looks as if Wimberly might be trying too hard to make an impression. He is also 0-for-12 at the plate.

“We’re just going to keep working with him,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We ran him out for a bunch of innings and couldn’t get him a groundball and they came in bunches today. We’ve got to loosen him up a little bit so he’ll be able to pick up some rhythm and timing at short. At the end of the day, we’ve got to be able to have him at short. We’ve got to be able to have him at centerfield.”

At the same time, Pedro Ciriaco has impressed He has been sure handed on defense and has handled the bat pretty well, too. The latter was the bigger concern coming into spring. Shortstop is not a position where the Pirates can make defensive sacrifices, so you have to like Ciriaco’s chances of winning a spot on the bench as the team’s backup middle infielder.

***

Some odds and ends:

  • The Pirates struck out 13 times on Sunday, though no position player struck out more than once. That’s hard to do.
  • Outfielder Matt Diaz went 0-for-3 and stranded five runners on base. He has made mention about his tendency to be slow out of the gate and it’s shown so far.
  • A good bounce back outing by Joel Hanrahan, who pitched a perfect fourth. The Blue Jays took some solid swings against him, though, and drove a few balls just foul. It was also evident that Hanrahan was making it a point to pitch inside.
  • Not the sharpest of appearances for Chris Resop or Daniel McCutchen today. McCutchen worked out of trouble successfully, but two of his three outings now have been less than stellar.
  • Pedro Alvarez is quietly having himself an impressive start to the spring. With two more hits on Sunday, Alvarez is now 7-for-20 with four RBIs. He hit in the clean-up spot again.

***

On the main site tonight, you will find a look at which players are out of options and how those option concerns could play a role in the battles for roster spots. Also, there will be items about the work being done to improve the road record, the so-so outing by McDonald and the time Steve Pearce continues to put in at third base.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Pirates 2, Yankees 0

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Granted, the Yankees didn’t bring many of their big guns to McKechnie Field on Tuesday. But a shutout is a shutout, and the Pirates were pleased to see all six of their pitchers come in and toss a scoreless inning or two.

The win was the third in five games for the Pirates this spring, and it gives the club back-to-back Grapefruit League victories for the first time since 2009. Yes, that is correct. The team did not win consecutive games once last spring.

The news of the day came this morning, as lefty Joe Beimel had to stop throwing because of more discomfort in his left throwing arm. You can read here to get a closer look at what other left-handed options the Pirates have should Beimel be sidelined into the season. I’ll give you the answer: not many. That doesn’t mean someone can’t step up, of course. But no matter how much the Pirates say they don’t mind going with no left-handed relievers if their best seven are all righties, I just can’t see that happening.

Beimel is undergoing an MRI as I type, though it’s not clear if the Pirates will reveal the results tonight. If not, we should know tomorrow morning how serious an issue this could be.

In today’s Bucs Beat, you’ll find additional injury updates (Scott Olsen, Evan Meek, Jose Ascanio), as well as a look into what James McDonald defines as his season goal. Check the main site later for those items.

As for your leftovers…

***

A little more on McDonald’s start… It’s hard to compare two-inning spring outings, but McDonald appeared, to me, to be as sharp as any Pirates starter to take the mound yet. He was efficient and aggressive, not that the latter was ever much of a problem for McDonald last year.

He threw strikes, got ahead more times than not and got outs early in the count. These are all good early signs for a pitcher who has struggled to keep his pitch count low enough to go deep into his starts before.

McDonald threw mostly fastballs on Tuesday, mixing in one cutter, which is a pitch he is working to use more. Asked where he is in his Spring Training progression, McDonald said: “Actually, I feel like I’m a little ahead right now [compared to years' past]. I was surprised how well I could go side-to-side over the plate. I am pretty happy with myself with the way I’m going.”

The most impressive thing, in my opinion, about McDonald so far is his attitude. He has every intention to lead by example, and for McDonald, that begins by not assuming that a spot in the rotation is already his.

“I’ve got to keep working to show my guys that I’m working really hard and that I’m not going to go through Spring Training like it’s a cakewalk because I’ve already made the team,” he said. “I don’t take it for granted that I’m on the team and sit back and relax.”

***

If anyone is more determined this spring than Steve Pearce, I haven’t seen it. Talk about someone on a mission. In addition to doing everything he needs to do to prove he’s good enough to play third base, Pearce just looks like he refuses to be outworked by anyone.

He had a double in his only at-bat on Tuesday and swiped third base. He also made a nice catch in foul territory over the dugout railing. He has an extra bounce to his step that is noticeable and is out to give the Pirates no choice but to take him to Pittsburgh.

If he doesn’t make the roster out of Spring Training, I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell him.

***

As mentioned in the main story on pirates.com, Justin Thomas believes that, if Beimel is out with an injury, that he has the ability to step up and play an important role in the Pirates’ bullpen. The left-hander has not established himself as a consistent Major League reliever yet, but Thomas believes he is ready to make that step forward this year.

“I know what is expected from me,” he said. “I just need to do it now. I’m at the point in my career where I’ve had a couple stints in the Major Leagues with a couple different teams. I just need to be there and prove that I belong there. I want to be a guy who isn’t just good enough to be there when they need you but who is good enough to be there all the time.”

Thomas could have two new pitches at his disposal out of the ‘pen this year, too. He said he threw a lot of curveballs in winter ball this year and has a better feel for the pitch as a result. He is also in the process of adding a cutter to his repertoire.

The Pirates aren’t likely to throw Thomas into a set-up role right away, instead preferring to use more experienced right-handers (think: Evan Meek, Chris Resop) in those late-inning spots early. But there’s no question that the club would benefit if Thomas steps up and shows he deserves to pitch in higher leverage spots.

***

Credit Daniel McCutchen with a nice bounceback performance after a rocky Grapefruit League appearance over the weekend. On Saturday, McCutchen was knocked for three runs on two hits and two walks. His command was quite suspect.

On Tuesday, he retired all six batters he faced. And McCutchen did so quickly.

I still suspect that McCutchen will begin the season in the Triple-A Indianapolis rotation, but he is out here competing for a bullpen spot. And actually, McCutchen could be better suited for a bullpen role long-term. He has a bulldog mentality and I could see him benefiting from going all out for one inning rather than having to hold back to ensure longevity.

“I really like the way that he responded from his last outing,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He went and filled the plate up with strikes, got after people. He’ll feel a lot better about himself tonight and that’s always good for all our guys. I like what I saw out of him today. He’s one of the guys that we’re expecting to see take a step forward and compete this spring.”

***
The second save of the spring for the Pirates goes to Daniel Moskos, who had plenty of experience notching them while in the closer’s role with Altoona last year. Moskos rebounded nicely after issuing a one-out walk that brought the tying run to the plate. He appeared plenty poised working around the trouble. 

“Daniel is competing,” Hurdle said. “I think he was slowing himself down a little bit and gathering himself a little better than he was last time out. He got outs when we needed him there. He’s coming along. We just need him to go pitch, make pitches, have confidence in himself, not let the game speed him up.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Maholm scratched, McCutchen to pitch Friday

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Following the Pirates’ 11-9 loss on Thursday, the club announced that Paul Maholm will be unable to make his scheduled start against the Marlins on Friday due to left knee irritation. Daniel McCutchen will take the mound in Maholm’s place.

This setback means that Maholm is done for 2010, his final start having come in the team’s home finale last Sunday. The left-hander, who was seeking to become the Pirates’ only 10-game winner this season, finishes the year with a 9-15 record and 5.10 ERA.

Maholm, who was no longer available for comment after the Pirates made the pitching change announcement, has had problems with his left knee before. He had surgery on it years ago and was hampered by soreness in that knee for part of the 2009 season.

This is the first start that Maholm will miss this season.

For McCutchen, this will be his ninth start of the year for the Pirates, though his first since Aug. 25. Since then, McCutchen has pitched out of the bullpen. He didn’t throw more than 32 pitches in any of his nine relief appearances in September, so he will limited in how deep he can go on Friday.

McCutchen pitched in relief against Florida twice earlier this season and tossed a scoreless inning in each appearance.

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August 25: Cardinals (68-55) @ Pirates (42-84)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf has been placed on the 15-day DL (no surprises there), and taking his spot on the roster will be lefty Brian Burres. I assume this means that Burres — who has started seven games for the Pirates already this year — will take Ohlendorf’s next scheduled start on Sunday. Have to confirm that with manager John Russell, though. And this could be a case where Burres would make the start only if the Pirates don’t have to use him in long relief these next few days.

In case you missed it last night, Jeff Karstens is no longer starting this game due to arm fatigue. Daniel McCutchen is stepping in to make the spot start. McCutchen has thrown more than 19 pitches in an outing only once this month (56 on Aug. 8), so he’ll certainly be on some sort of pitch limitation. What that is, I’ll have to ask Russell when the clubhouse opens.

UPDATE: A few answers… Burres will be used in the bullpen. It appears as if the Pirates will dip back into Triple-A for a starter on Sunday. As for McCutchen, Russell threw out an arbitrary number of 70-80 pitches for tonight’s start, though the Pirates will monitor McCutchen carefully. If his pitches start elevating or getting flat, that’s the sign that McCutchen is tiring.

Much more detail on all the injury news/roster moves to be found on pirates.com in a bit.


Cardinals.jpgCARDINALS:
S. Schumaker (2B), R. Winn (RF), A. Pujols (1B), M. Holliday (LF), J. Jay (CF), F. Lopez (SS), P. Feliz (3B), B. Anderson (C), J. Westbrook (RHP)

Westbrook vs: PIT: 0-0 in 4 games, 8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 4 K


pirates.jpgPIRATES:
A. McCutchen (CF), J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), G. Jones (1B), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Doumit (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), C. Snyder (C), D. McCutchen (RHP)

McCutchen vs: STL: 0-1 in 1 start, 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 6 BB, 1 K

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Daniel McCutchen making transition

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

McCutchen, Daniel.jpgI wasn’t able to speak with Daniel McCutchen on Monday after we were informed that he was moving to the bullpen, quite possibly for good this year. I did spend a few minutes talking with him earlier today, however, so I wanted to pass along some of what he had to say during that conversation.

On being asked to move to the ‘pen: “I’m good with it. I think I can maybe work some things out. I feel really close and maybe it will be an opportunity for me to get over the hump and pitch the way I want to pitch.”

On what areas of his game he is wanting to target first: “Probably consistency with my off-speed stuff and working ahead in the count. There have been a lot of things. Last year, the first half of the year was kind of up-and-down and then I really got on a roll. This year, I haven’t really gotten on a roll. I’m going to keep pressing through it and try to get on that roll.”

On the challenges of adapting to a new role: “I pitched out of the ‘pen in college. How relevant that is – that was my sophomore year – I don’t know. But I’ve been asking a lot of guys about their routine and what they do. They are going to help me with that. Hopefully it will be an easy transition.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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