Brandon Cumpton: Can His Return Spark Pirates Season?
By Tom Smith
Brandon Cumpton was optioned back to Triple-A earlier in the season despite pitching better than anyone on the Bucs staff.
We have been rioting since Brandon Cumpton was sent to AAA to make room for an inefffective Wandy Rodriguez. After everything we felt would go wrong– went way worse than we imagined–Rodriguez has been designated for assignment. Wow, that’s a massive check to write for absolutely nothing–well that spring training home run was cool I guess. But just how much can the Pirates expect from Cumpton now that he is back in the mix?
First, let’s just say he never should have left the mix. The team will be on the raod against the Mets and Dodgers for his first two starts. Should everything line up as expected, the Pirates will return home against the Brewers and Cubs for the Georgia Tech alum. It’s easy to see a few wins in there should he do what he has been doing in his time in the big leagues. That’s more than anyone could expect from Rodriguez.
There were certainly millions of reasons why Bob Nutting wanted Rodriguez to be given so many opportunities. The team felt he could bounce back from his injury suffered in 2013. They were wrong, but finally someone had the courage to wave the white flag even if it was two starts too late.
When we wrote about Rodriguez early this season, we saw the disappearance of his rising fastball. Without that pitch, the lefty is simply not the same pitcher he was with the Houston Astros. We wish the best for him, but are really looking forward to what Cumpton can provide an under performing Pirates rotation.
You think Edinson Volquez didn’t pay attention to the move? How about his six innings of work against the Washington Nationals tonight? Many have said that Cumpton deserved a spot in the rotation out of spring training and now looking at it, the argument seems to make a great deal of sense.
Cumpton has made seven starts for the Pirates dating back to last year. The numbers are eye popping for the right hander even though most Buccos fans hadn’t heard of him before he arrived on the scene during the magical 2013 season. The strikeouts won’t blow anyone away, but the aggressive approach has led to a .225 batting average against and less than three runs allowed per game for the 25-year old.
The Pirates have plenty of more glamorous pitching options 12 to 18 months away from the big leagues. But none have performed better than Cumpton. His performance in 2014 is going to say a lot about how the team addresses it’s horrid starting rotation. The starting pitching carried the Bucs in 2013 and has consistently snuck out the back door in 2014. Now the Pirates seem willing to fix it.
The A.J. Burnett saga was pathetic. No Burnett. No draft pick. And now Wandy, and all of those millions, are toast. Talk about an awful few months of decision making for the Pirates management team.
So all that’s left is to turn to Cumpton. He’s an inexpensive option who has performed better than most of the Pirates starters in his short time in the bigs. But curb your enthusiasm for a moment or two, we can certainly expect the 6’2″ 220 pounder to face his bumps in the road. But the fact is, the Pirates simply don’t have a better option at the moment. (Jeff Locke issued five walks in his AAA start tonight for Indy.)
It was a multi-million dollar bullet to bite which just blows minds, but Cumpton earned this opportunity. The most important thing to consider is that he wants to make the most of it. It will all start in New York against the Mets. We expect less hits allowed, definently less home runs allowed and most importantly a better opportunity for the Bucs to win ball games with a starter on the mound that is dying to prove he belongs in the Pirates future plans.
Brandon Cumpton returns Monday in New York