I missed last night’s game, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened. James McDonald got hammered again by the Padres, giving up seven runs and two homers in 4 1/3 innings. That helped the Pirates to blow a six-run lead to a bad baseball team. Since the All-Star break, McDonald has an 8.71 ERA, he’s allowed 8 homers in 31 innings, opponents are hitting .321/.412/.580 against him.
After the game, Clint Hurdle told reporters that he was moving to a six-man rotation for at least a little while with Kevin Correia slotting back into place on Tuesday. This drives me a little bit insane: a straight-up six man rotation takes your sixth best starter and gives him starts that belong to every other pitcher in the rotation, including your best starters. I understand that James McDonald clearly needs more time off and that Erik Bedard needs to be handled very carefully and that Correia has been pitching well of late, but going to straight six-man rotation will cost AJ Burnett at least one start over the season’s last 50 games.
I don’t have any great answers right now (I just came into work this morning and found out that my week-long experiment was potentially ruined overnight by … someone that is not me), but I’d much rather see the Pirates send McDonald to the bullpen for a week to work on whatever his issues are (I’ll take a look at his struggles hopefully in a post on Monday) and after that, to see the Pirates use Correia occasionally to get Bedard enough rest while making sure that Burnett gets a regular start every fourth day no matter what. Giving Correia some starts now while the rotation struggles is one thing, but six-man rotations are not long-term solutions.