Russell won't shake up rotation
Skipper plans to stick with struggling young hurlers
ST. LOUIS -- For anyone who thinks a rotation shakeup should be in order because of the consistent struggles of the team's starters, Pirates manager John Russell would like to put those rumors to rest.
"The majority of the time you have to let these guys find their rhythm, find their groove," Russell said. "You might hit some bumps in the road along the way, but eventually they'll get out."
With the results of Tom Gorzelanny and Ian Snell having been the most disappointing of the bunch, Pirates starters have combined to win just 12 games this season and have posted a 5.64 ERA while doing so.
With the season now one-third over, there has been speculation outside of the organization that some type of rotation change could be what's needed to get the starting pitching back on track. However, as Russell pointed out prior to Saturday's game, that type of quick fix isn't the long-term or short-term answer.
To begin with, the Pirates don't have an established Major League starter to jump right into the rotation. Their best option at Triple-A would be John Van Benschoten, who not only struggled mightily as a starter in the big leagues last season, but who showed during a short call-up in April that he still has work to do.
Bryan Bullington, who began the season starting in Triple-A, is with the club to serve in a relief capacity. The remaining Indianapolis starters -- Ty Taubenheim, Jason Davis and Luis Munoz -- haven't yet put up the results to warrant big league consideration.
"It would be nice to say that we have four guys in line who could come right up and win games," Russell said. "But I don't think there are any organizations that have that kind of luxury. If organizations were that deep in pitching, you'd see that more often. Good pitching is a rare commodity, especially guys who can compete at this level."
Furthermore, with each of the Pirates' starters beginning the season with fewer than three full Major League seasons under their belts, these types of hiccups are to be expected. Knowing that the future of the ballclub will rely heavily on the core of young pitching the organization has developed, moving one of the young arms out of the rotation now could do more harm than good in the long run.
"We feel very confident and comfortable with the type of pitching we have," Russell said. "Sometimes they are on the mound and they feel solo, and we're trying to remind them that there are eight other guys out there to help you."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.