Pirates notebook: Hurdle sees bad side of long starts


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PHOENIX — Edinson Volquez pitched well July 10. Maybe too well.

Since allowing one run in a complete game against the St. Louis Cardinals that day, Volquez's performance dipped in his next two outings. Going into a game Friday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he allowed 16 hits and nine runs, seven earned, in 10 innings with seven walks and five strikeouts in his past two starts.

Manager Clint Hurdle said he has seen a correlation between pitching deep into games and decreased performance in subsequent starts, and it helps him decide when to pull his starters.

"[I'm] questioned all the time about why our starters don't go deeper in games," Hurdle said. "This is one of the by-products for me, the collateral damage that happens more often than not with anybody that completes a game."

Hurdle said starters this year had a combined 4.44 ERA in the outings following a complete game. That includes Clayton Kershaw, likely the best pitcher on the planet, who, in three starts after a complete game, has allowed four runs in 24 innings -- including another complete game -- with two walks and 25 strikeouts.

"There's always outliers," Hurdle said. "And just think what it would be if he wouldn't be putting up the numbers that he's been putting up."

The attention is somewhat a product of the era. In 2013, 36 pitchers threw 200 or more innings. In 1980, 56 pitchers threw 200 innings and 17 threw 250 or more. The numbers declined as time passed: 42 with 200 or more innings in 1990, 37 in 2000. Hurdle said the correlation depends on the era.

"It would depend on what years you wanted to trace it back to," said Hurdle, who noted that he paid attention to the past decade.

Vance Worley, who will start tonight, pitched a complete game Monday.

Cole's schedule is altered

The Pirates cancelled Gerrit Cole's rehabilitation start, which was scheduled for today at Class AAA Indianapolis.

"After Gerrit's last outing and last bullpen, we decided another bullpen to refine some things was the best course of action," general manager Neal Huntington said in an e-mail.

The Pirates originally said nothing about the change in plans, but the Indianapolis Indians Twitter account announced Cole's replacement Friday.

Cole looked strong in a rehabilitation start Monday with Indianapolis, striking out seven and walking three in five scoreless innings. He threw 81 pitches and allowed five hits. The change could mean the Pirates are shuffling their rotation after their off day Monday and want Cole lined up in his spot.

Huntington said Thursday that Cole's return could push a starter to the bullpen.

Tabata update

Asked why third baseman Brent Morel and not Jose Tabata, an outfielder, replaced Starling Marte on the active roster, Hurdle said Tabata had recently returned after getting hit with two pitches on his left forearm. Tabata returned to play for Indianapolis July 17 and played in six consecutive games, going 5 for 27, before Marte went on the DL July 23.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.


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