Ace on shelf with right triceps strain; Bucs' No. 4 prospect makes second start
By Adam Berry and Joshua Needelman
MLB.com |@adamdberry |
PITTSBURGH -- With their rotation struggling and the club on a season-high five-game losing streak, the Pirates had to put ace right-hander Gerrit Cole on the shelf Tuesday afternoon.
Pittsburgh placed Cole on the 15-day disabled list with a right triceps muscle strain. Cole left Friday's 9-3 loss to the Cardinals with right triceps tightness after facing one batter in the third inning. In Cole's place, the Pirates called up prospect Jameson Taillon for the second time in a week.
Cole has been the most reliable pitcher in an otherwise unstable rotation, going 5-4 with a 2.77 ERA in 12 starts. The Bucs' starters entered Tuesday with a 4.24 ERA this season, contributing to a stretch in which they've lost five straight and 12 of their past 16.
Manager Clint Hurdle said putting Cole on the DL was the best course of action, as it would allow the pitcher to refresh and "back it off."
"Why jeopardize anything else?" Hurdle said. "Give him some time where he can take advantage of the time down, and then we can recreate the throwing program as we've done with him in the past and look forward to an efficient return."
Taillon, the Pirates' No. 4 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, made his second Major League start in Tuesday's series opener in New York. He put together a quality start against the Mets in a spot start at PNC Park on Wednesday, giving up three runs over six innings in a no-decision.
"Really impressive poise. The conviction with which he threw his pitches and the intent, it was fun to watch," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday. "It certainly didn't seem like his first Major League start against the defending National League champion."
Taillon made a strong return this season following two years spent recovering from Tommy John surgery and a hernia operation. The injuries delayed the arrival of the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, but he quickly showed that his time down was not time lost.
"In Jameson's case, much like when Gerrit came up, we felt like we were on the front end of the readiness curve. If we were in a vacuum, in a perfect world, we would have left them in Triple-A longer," Huntington said. "In a perfect world, now he never goes back to Triple-A, because that means we were wrong and he was more ready than maybe we gave him credit for."
The Pirates could only call up Taillon within 10 days of his option assignment because they put a player, in this case Cole, on the disabled list. With Taillon starting Tuesday, the Bucs will start left-hander Jeff Locke on Wednesday and right-hander Juan Nicasio on Thursday.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.