Pirates have major need for a “consistent” No. 3 pitcher to emerge behind Rodriguez, Burnett


NEED FOR A CONSISTENT NO. 3 PITCHER TO EMERGE James McDonald pitched six strong innings and Gaby Sanchez delivered a two-run homer to break a 1-1 tie, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates (9-8) to an impressive 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves (13-4) on Saturday night. McDonald shined allowing 2 hits and 1 run, while striking out 9 and showed a strong battle level getting out of a tough second inning where he normally falters (since 2012 all-star break) in those type of situations. “The second was a big test for him, one he hasn’t passed often,” Hurdle said Saturday night of McDonald. McDonald’s velocity was back in the 92 mph range, a positive sign after struggling to hit 90 in his previous start, which raised several concerns. The flashes McDonald showed Saturday night vs the Braves is why he will remain in the starting rotation and Jonathan Sanchez and JeffRead More »

Morning Pirates Buzz: McDonald’s performance a “huge” step forward and there’s been some positive trends for him over last 3 starts


MORNING PIRATES BUZZ The Pirates have never wanted to take James McDonald out of the starting rotation because of his upside, him just being in just his second full season as a starter, in addition to how he performed in the first half, among other factors, but going into Friday’s start, the Pirates had reached the point where another awful start from McDonald would have likely made the team have to consider taking McDonald out of the rotation, from the standpoint that the team owes it to the players with the Pirates right in the middle of a playoff race. McDonald (11-5) though has put any of that talk to bed after an excellent performance in Friday’s 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. McDonald pitched six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no runs, striking out seven and walking three. McDonald had previously allowed 20 earned runs over hisRead More »

Hurdle to sit Alvarez for at least a couple days


Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle has benched third baseman Pedro Alvarez for today’s game against Milwaukee and Alvarez is likely to sit out a couple more games after that. Hurdle told reporters in Milwaukee this morning that Alvarez is being shut down for at least a couple days to “clear his deck.” Alvarez who has had an up and down season, is hitting .194 with 8 home runs and 24 RBI on the season. He’s 0-16 in his last four games and is batting .130 over his last 23 at-bats. James McDonald (4-2, 2.20) takes the mound for the 26-26 Pirates who look to move a game above .500. McDonald has a 1.84 ERA in his last eight starts and comes into today’s game ranked 3rd in the national league with a 2.20 ERA.