Reliever Pimentel has makeup of a starter

Reliever Pimentel has makeup of a starter

PITTSBURGH -- At the moment, the Pirates have more credible starting pitchers than they can accommodate -- as evidenced by Brandon Cumpton having to be optioned to make room for Gerrit Cole. And Francisco Liriano, their 2013 ace -- albeit with just one win on the season -- is on the back shelf of the DL.

Next season, however, is up in the air beyond Cole and Charlie Morton, in the first installment of a three-year deal. But you may already be able to fill in one of the blanks with Stolmy Pimentel, pitching up to the love team staff has always shown him.

Clint Hurdle virtually gushed over Pimentel's Saturday outing. For the manager, it was clearly the best takeaway from that 5-3 loss to the Mets.

"Another good outing. Outstanding," Hurdle said. "The swing-and-miss stuff … the split played, and the slider. There was a nice finish to the fastball."

Pimentel replaced Cole in the fifth inning and blanked the Mets on two hits through the next four innings, walking one and striking out seven. It was the 24-year-old Dominican right-hander's first appearance in 10 days, since allowing one run in 4 1/3 innings against the Reds.

"That's a really good body of relief work. Really good development for him the last two times he had the ball," Hurdle said.

The Bucs acquired Pimentel from Boston in December 2012 as part of the four-player package in return for Joel Hanrahan, and they have all along planned to stretch him out to be a starter. Another piece in that swap was current closer Mark Melancon.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.