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Insider Only Perrotto: Pitching decision looms for Pirates

By John Perrotto
The Pirates will likely have an interesting decision to make with their starting rotation next week.
Right-hander Jeff Karstens is scheduled to make what is expected to be his last rehab start with
Class AAA Indianapolis on Sunday. After that, the Pirates feel he will be ready to rejoin their
rotation for the first time since leaving his April 17 start at Arizona with a sore shoulder.
Somebody will have to be removed from the rotation to make room for Karstens and it figures to
be one of two right-handers, either Kevin Correia or Brad Lincoln.
Correia is 3-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 13 starts this season. However, he made a case to keep his spot
in the rotation Tuesday night when he pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings in a win over the Minnesota
Twins at PNC Park.
Correia left a good impression on manager Clint Hurdle.

“I think we tend to forget that the first half of last season he was pretty good, made an All-Star
team,” Hurdle said. “I think he added and subtracted to his pitching velocities better than he has
in a long time. He threw a cutter, a slider, then some circle-changes and straight changes, so I
think he widened the gap of velocity for them to cover and just stayed in counts.”
Lincoln has made three starts since being moved into the rotation from the bullpen and has
pitched a grand total of 11 2/3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 10.03 ERA in those outings and shown
none of the promise that he did when he made a spot May 14 at Miami and beat the Marlins by
holding them to two runs in six innings.
Lincoln will start Saturday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers at home. Though Hurdle is
not making any promises, he is hinting that the Pirates might want to continue taking a look at
Lincoln as a starter beyond this weekend.
“It’s been a work in progress,” Hurdle said. “The results haven’t necessarily been what we have
wanted but I think we need to give this young man a chance to channel through the transition
Lincoln has pitched in 40 major-league games, making 21 starts and 19 relief appearances.
He is 4-9 with a 5.87 ERA and a .858 OPS allowed as a starter. Out of the bullpen, he is 2-0 with
a 2.60 ERA and a .668 OPS allowed.
While the numbers strongly suggest Lincoln should work in relief, the Pirates owe it to
themselves to see if he has any as a future starter. Remember, they made him the fourth overall
pick in the 2006 amateur draft over such pitchers as Brandon Morrow, Clayton Kershaw, Tim
Lincecum and Max Scherzer.
Lincoln isn’t a kid, either. He’s 27.
The time has come for the Pirates to finally determine what they have in him.
John Perrotto has covered the Pirates and Major League Baseball for 25 years.

About The Author

John Perrotto

Pirates Insider

John Perrotto is a contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports, covering the Pittsburgh Pirates, MLB. John has covered the Pirates for over 20+ seasons and is an exclusive member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

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