With Jeff Locke taking a brief detour to the minors to get some rest and maybe do some re-tooling over the next week, the Pirates need a starter for Sunday's game against the Cardinals. I'm guessing Locke will go back into the rotation following his return to the big leagues for at least a start or two (we can discuss the wisdom of doing so as that time approaches) so for now, it looks like what the Pirates will need on Sunday is a spot start.
The Pirates haven't announced a starter yet and given the magnitude of the game (there's an awfully good chance that first place will be on the line in some form or another on Sunday) I'm guessing they'll wait until the last possible second. Jeanmar Gomez, who's pitched well in relief recently, seems like a decent bet. So does Kris Johnson, who's been excellent with Indianapolis this year and was great in his long relief outing for the Bucs a week and a half ago. Brandon Cumpton, who shut the Cardinals down in the double-header at the end of July, is presumably not an option, having made his regularly scheduled start for Indianapolis last night. It's also possible that with an off-day on Monday, the Pirates could turn to Charlie Morton on short rest, since sinkerballers tend to have more success on short rest than other pitchers.
I have another suggestion: Jameson Taillon. Taillon's only made five Triple-A starts and promoting him would seem to be pretty out of line with the way that the Neal Huntington Pirates have handled their pitching prospects thus far, but the, the Marlon Byrd trade indicates that the club is pretty willing to change their methods if it's going to help this playoff run.
The case for Taillon on Sunday is pretty straightforward: he's the most talented pitcher the Pirates can put on the mound. Assuming he pitches to the end of the Indianapolis season (and in the playoffs), he's got a couple more starts to make anyway. Why not have one of them be for the Pirates? Besides a few control issues to iron out, he's barely missed a beat from Double-A to Triple-A. The Cardinals won't have much, if any, of a book on him. The Pirates would really only need maybe five or six innings from him at most and Gomez can be ready to relieve him on a moment's notice. Why mess around with a swing guy or a minor league journeyman or a guy on short rest when you can bring in a 6'6" mountain of talent with a mid-90s fastball and a huge curveball for one start?
If the Bucs are pulling out all the stops for this last month of the season, I think Taillon for a spot start should be fair game. This is a pennant race. It's time to pull out the stops.