The news about Wandy Rodriguez hitting the disabled list for a knee problem came at the end of the work day yesterday, so I didn’t have a chance to post much about it. The situation is a bit clearer now, so getting a post together today is probably a little bit more useful anyway.
There’s been no indication from the Pirates how serious Wandy’s knee injury is, but if you put him no the DL retroactive to Sunday, he’ll be out until May 5th. His spot in the rotation could theoretically only have to come up once before then because of the off-day on May 1st, but since the Pirates have a bunch of guys that need to have their workloads monitored (Cole, Liriano, probably Volquez) it will likely come up twice.
The Pirates didn’t use spot starters from the bullpen all that often last year, so the safe bet is that Brandon Cumpton will be called up on Thursday to make a start or two. It sort of figured that Jeff Locke would be under consideration, but he made his start for Indy last night and so he certainly won’t be able to pitch on Thursday for the Pirates. Casey Sadler might be an option, too; he’s scheduled to pitch for Indy tonight, so if he starts I think we can be reasonable sure Cumpton will be the choice. Given his solid start with Indy, his good service with the Pirates last year, and Locke’s pre-season oblique problems, he’s the obvious choice.
Of course, that’s short term; without a better idea of what sort of injury Rodriguez is dealing with, it’s hard to say where things go beyond a couple of starts for Cumpton. I know that everyone tends to shrug off injuries for poor performing players as “mystery injuries” under the Neal Huntington front office, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there’s an actual knee issue with Wandy right now. His fastball velocity has been way down and he’s not locating his pitches at all; I can’t believe the Pirates would’ve let him break camp with the team if he looked like this for all of spring training.
Regardless of that, I do expect the club to milk this injury for all it’s worth if Cumpton pitches well. Starting pitching is a huge issue for the Pirates right now and they can’t let Rodriguez back on the mound unless they’re 100% sure he’s right and one of the five best options for the team. He’s not either of those things right now.