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Huntington On Starting Rotation, Final Two Months Of Regular Season

The Pirates GM weighs in on the starting rotation, the bullpens struggles, why DFA Jung Ho Kang now and more

August 04, 2019 - 2:58 pm

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington met with the assembled media prior to Sunday afternoon's series finale against the New York Mets and the conversation started discussing what the moves made at the deadline mean for the team during the final two months of this regular season.

"Part of the motivation of (moving) Lyles and Dickerson was what we got in return. Whether it's Cody Ponce, an arm that we've liked for awhile or in Dickerson, the international money to get a chance to add to that class to make a bigger investment in next year's class, essentially this year's class," said Huntington. "But, part of it was also wanting to get a chance for Jose Osuna to play as Gregory Polanco's working his way back.On the pitching front, Brault and Agrazal, they are in our plan's for next year, so to get them innings and of course we got Mitch Keller who's pounding on the door to get an opportunity in our rotation."

It all comes down to opportunity for Keller as the Pirates are looking to get him another chance up here this season.

"As much as anything else, opportunity, again with what Brault and Agrazal have done it's tough to move them out with the way they've pitched," said Huntington. "Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams, Chris Archer another great sign for optimism last night and really last handful of starts have been better other than the one he got removed early, but we're seeing some positives there. So, as you start to look around the rotation, part of it's opportunity and with Mitch it's just continuing to refine the things that are going to allow him to be successful up here and you rundown the laundry list as you do with every young pitcher and Mitch is the same."

There have been conversations about going to a 6-man rotation over the final two months of the season, but with all the off days coming up, it most likely won't be anytime soon.

Also along the lines of the starting rotation, with the arm problems that Jameson Taillon has battled this season after throwing 57+ more innings last season than he did in 2017 and Joe Musgrove already surpassing his total number of innings pitched with the Pirates last year, this season.  Huntington discussed what they look for when they make a decision whether to shut down a pitcher or not before the end of the season.

"A lot of it comes back to the pitcher's recovery, the quality of the stuff that we're seeing," said Huntington. "There's a lot of art to it, there's not a ton of true science to it and we're working through that with our guys. We've been conservative in the past, but there isn't a finite number that all of sudden your risk increases exponentially, we don't really know that. There's some quick science that says there's a certain threshold out there and there have been some players that have crossed it and done fine, there have been some players that have crossed it and didn't. But, we're continue to stay with our guys, monitor them. If you don't increase it than you never get above what their career high was before, if you increase it too much there is some belief that there is some exposure, but the too much becomes the hard part to identify."

Huntington also weighed in on the next steps on Francisco Cervelli as he builds back up to getting back on the field, how the decision was made to DFA Jung Ho Kang this week, what they have seen from Ke'Bryan Hayes, Cole Tucker since going back down, at Triple-A this season, the difference not have a Waiver Trade Deadline in August this season and the struggles of the bullpen for most of this season.

Listen to Pirates GM Neal Huntington's entire conversation with the media below:

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