Clint Hurdle was evasive before last night’s game about Gerrit Cole’s status on Wednesday, and now we know why: Cole’s bullpen session didn’t go well and he’s headed back to the disabled list with his strained lat.
There’s still not a whole lot else to go on here: the comments from both Hurdle and Cole made it sound like this is a short-term injury (it could be: Cole’s placement on the DL will likely be retroactive to Friday and with the All-Star Break next week he could conceivably only miss one start), but I will mention Johnny Cueto’s struggles with a lat injury last year one more time. He suffered the injury at the end of May and the Reds thought it wasn’t serious, he missed a couple of starts, came back for three starts in June, and then was out until September. It’s possible that the Reds didn’t handle Cueto all that well and avoiding that sort of long-term problem is why the Pirates are being so proactive here, but I’m awfully nervous that this is going to be a nagging injury that will affect Cole for much longer than the timeline the Pirates are implying that it will right now.
Brandon Cumpton will start for the Pirates against the Cardinals on Wednesday. That means that the spit-and-duct-tape rotation will be back in effect for maybe one more turn; Francisco Liriano made an excellent rehab start for Indianapolis last night and could in theory be slotted in for a start against the Reds over the weekend before the break, though it’s also possible that he’ll make one more rehab start and return to the Pirates after the Break. I know that Volquez, Locke, Worley, and Cumpton were all excellent during the Pirates’ strong June, but it still makes me extremely nervous that so many starts will keep going to that group. That’s especially true for Cumpton and Worley, because I worry that their effectiveness is most likely to erode. I was hoping that July would be the month that the Pirates could phase those two out of the rotation, but obviously with Cole’s injury that won’t be the case until the middle of the month at the absolute earliest.