09/24/12 8:24 PM ET
Pirates taking a look at lefty Wilson in relief role
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Locke, McPherson getting starts in final games
NEW YORK -- In a sideways sort of way, simply conquering .500 -- which would have been a major letdown a mere month ago -- has turned into a possibly significant accomplishment for the Pirates.And the Bucs want it -- but apparently not badly enough to prioritize it over planning ahead. Two rookie pitchers who, as of Monday afternoon, hadn't yet won a Major League game -- Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke -- remain in the season-closing rotation, while one deserving veteran, Jeff Karstens, is on the outside. Manager Clint Hurdle made no bones about the motive behind the continued use of McPherson and Locke: With A.J. Burnett the only veteran starter on the staff signed for 2013, the club has to see what it might have in the two rookies. "Our focus right now is to get them some starts. As we build the club forward, whatever changes might take place, we have to think of how we can add value to the starting rotation," Hurdle said. As for fixating on a winning record, Hurdle reaffirmed his greater interest in performance than in results. "It's not a rallying cry, but we're aware of it," the manager said of .500. "For us, it would be a good finish, because it will take seven wins [out of the last 10] to get to 82. It would be a very positive statement with which to finish the season."
Led by starters Locke, Kevin Correia and Burnett, the Pirates fanned 12 batters in each game of the weekend series in Houston -- the first time in modern (1900-on) club history that the Bucs whiffed 12-plus in three straight games. The staff began Monday night's game with 1,114 strikeouts -- 10 short of the club record set in 1969 -- when Bob Veale led with 213. In Sunday's 8-1 win in Houston, the Bucs scored that many runs without the aid of a homer for only the second time this season. On June 1, they notched an 8-2 win in Milwaukee without going deep.
"I'd be interested to hear the actual conversation from those who don't think a knuckleballer deserves the Cy Young Award. 'If they didn't have that pitch, they wouldn't be real good.' Well, they got that pitch, and not many people do. If I had a vote, I'd have no problem voting for a knuckleball pitcher."
-- Hurdle, joining the debate about whether a knuckleball pitcher such as the Mets' R.A. Dickey deserves a Cy Young Award over more classic hurlers like Washington's Gio Gonzalez.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com 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.