Pirates notebook: Tough decision on rotation on the horizon

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The Pirates will finalize a decision today about the starting rotation when Gerrit Cole is activated, and it won’t be an easy one.

Three pitchers who started the season in the minor leagues — Brandon Cumpton, Jeff Locke and Vance Worley — have gone a combined 6-3 in 16 starts. But barring a more surprising solution, one is likely to be headed back to Class AAA.

But who?

Manager Clint Hurdle said several factors will come into play including which player has options left. Locke and Cumpton have options left; Worley does not.

The Pirates will weigh the value of keeping a second left-hander versus another right-hander, and the volume of work from each player will be evaluated, said Hurdle.

“There’s a number of different lenses that you use when you make that decision and try and make sure you maintain depth,” said Hurdle. “These are problems, challenges, you have when you start becoming a better organization.”

When Cole, and then Francisco Liriano shortly thereafter, went on the disabled list, it seemed like a pending disaster. Instead, the pitching staff has thrived in June going a combined 13-6 with a 3.20 ERA before Cumpton’s start Friday.

“The game has a wonderful way of balancing itself when you give people the opportunity to perform,” said Hurdle. “A move you make tomorrow could pay you dividends in the long run.”

Cumpton was 3-0 in his past four outings before Friday. Worley is 2-0 in three starts with a 1.74 ERA, and Locke, the only left-hander of the trio, is 1-1 in five starts with a 3.74 ERA.

“These guys gave us a big infusion when we needed to have some stability in the rotation,” said Hurdle.

Marte out of lineup again

For the day in a row, Starling Marte was not in the starting lineup. He is recovering from a jammed right middle finger he injured while attempting to steal second base Tuesday night against Tampa Bay. Travis Snider started in left field and batted second Friday against the New York Mets.

“He’s right now continuing going through a workout progression,” Hurdle said. “He’s improved from [Thursday]. He’s able to throw the ball better. Swing.”

Rest for the weary

Utility player Josh Harrison got a day off Friday after not having a break since June 12-13 because of left ankle discomfort. Except for those two days, Harrison had played in every game since May 17.

“He’s been after it,” said Hurdle, who plans to give another day off to “an outfielder or two” during the series against the Mets. Andrew McCutchen likely will get a day off sandwiched around the Pirates’ off day Monday.

McCutchen, who has played in all but one of the first 80 games, will be off either Sunday or Tuesday.

Mets scratch Wright

Mets third baseman David Wright was a late scratch from the lineup because of pain in his left shoulder. The shoulder has been bothering him for at least three weeks, but he re-aggravated it Thursday night.

“[Thursday] night on a couple of different occasions, I did something to re-aggravate it,” said Wright.

He aggravated the injury during a rundown in the fourth inning Thursday when he tagged out Ike Davis, but not before McCutchen scored the Pirates’ second run of the game.

Wright will have an MRI today in New York.


Jenn Menendez jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez. Hayes Gardner hgardner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @HayesGardner.

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