Van Benschoten sent to Triple-A
Bucs say pitcher tagged for loss in spot start needs more work
PITTSBURGH -- After starting the Pirates' 8-1 loss in Game 2 on Monday, John Van Benschoten was informed that he would be returning to Triple-A Indianapolis.
The Pirates will not announce a corresponding move until Tuesday.
Van Benschoten started the season in Indianapolis before being called up on April 27 to take hold of the long relief role in the bullpen. A rainout on Sunday thrust Van Benschoten into the rotation for a spot start on Monday, and, in doing so, it gave the Pirates further indication that the right-hander simply needs consistent work off the mound.
He wasn't getting that in Pittsburgh. Van Benschoten had an eight-day layoff between a 1 1/3-inning relief appearance, and Monday's poor start made that layoff's significance more apparent.
"We need to get John stretched out," general manager Neal Huntington said. "I think he reaffirmed that today as he flattened when he hit the 55-60 pitch count. His first three innings were great. But then you could see that he fatigued and the ball started going up."
Van Benschoten struck out four and allowed one run through the first three innings. He wouldn't record an out in the fourth before giving up four runs on three hits and two walks.
"I'll be back. I'll get my work done down there and I'll be back as soon as I can," Van Benschoten said. "It's always frustrating [to be sent down]. You have to rise up from this and I'll be back as soon as I can."
Sending Van Benschoten down to the Minors also ensures that the Pirates will have fresh bullpen arm to start their series against the Cardinals on Tuesday. Had Van Benschoten remained with the team, he likely would not have been able to take the mound until Thursday at the earliest.
Van Benschoten had dominated in four Triple-A starts, posting a 4-0 record and a 1.88 ERA, before joining the big league club in late April. However, his outing on Monday was more reminiscent of how his big league fortunes went a year ago. In nine starts last season, Van Benschoten finished 0-7 with a 9.61 ERA.
Despite the concerning trend, Huntington said that he saw Monday's start as nothing but a positive in Van Benschoten's development.
"He has Major League stuff," Huntington said. "It's just getting that location and command consistent. I think, if anything, watching how he pitched those first three innings on Monday was extremely encouraging and really has us wanting to continue developing [him] in Triple-A."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.