Wandy Rodriguez Brilliant In Return To Pittsburgh Pirates’ Rotation

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez strained his left hamstring in his last start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his first game back tonight, against the Atlanta Braves, Rodriguez was dominant.

In seven innings pitched, Rodriguez allowed only one hit and struck out five Braves’ batters.

For the season now, in just three starts, Rodriguez is 2-0 with a ridiculous 0.56 ERA and an even more ridiculous 0.38 WHIP. In 16 innings so far in 2013, he has struck out 11 and only surrendered one walk.

Not everything was great for the Pirates tonight, however. The managing was questionable, at best. Clint Hurdle made what I thought was a questionable decision to remove Rodriguez after throwing just 82 pitches through seven innings. With how well Rodriguez was pitching, I didn’t see a good reason to go to the bullpen in tonight’s game.

The Pirates’ bullpen has been over-worked so far in 2013. Pirates’ starting pitchers have averaged just over five innings per start, and that is just awful. The bullpen has needed to do far too much work, far too early in the season. In tonight’s game, the bullpen could have had the entire night off, which would have been a much-needed day of rest.

That being said, Hurdle chose to do the very “Hurdle-thing” and go to the bullpen unnecessarily. Hurdle decided to bring in Mark Melancon for the eighth inning and Vin Mazzaro for the ninth inning. Melancon, in particular, has been used a lot this season already. The only other Pirates bullpen pitcher I can think of that has been used more is Justin Wilson, and he comes on in long relief, so that’s understandable. The only possible reason I can think of for Hurdle to remove Rodriguez so early is that it was his first game back from injury. Even then, however, Rodriguez didn’t seem to be bothered at all, he was cruising. If I were manager, I would be willing to take that risk of allowing him to go all nine innings.

The bottom-line is that when he is able, Hurdle needs to allow his starting pitcher to go deeper into games, because if he doesn’t, I don’t want to hear him and the rest of the coaching staff complain about an over-worked bullpen in September.

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