Joe Musgrove Continues to Dominate in Rehab Starts
There will be a boost coming to the Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation very soon
Right-handed pitcher Joe Musgrove has yet to make his regular season debut for the Pirates. This is due to shoulder fatigue and a muscle strain that have plagued him since February. However, the 25-year-old righty is close to joining the Pirate rotation.
On Saturday night, Musgrove made his third rehab start. This start came for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians and it was his best rehab start yet. And to call it his best rehab start yet is saying something, because he has been dominant on his rehab assignment.
For the Indians on Saturday night, Musgrove tossed 5 2/3 perfect innings while throwing 60 of his 79 pitches for strikes. On top of not allowing a base runner, Musgrove also whiffed six Columbus batters.
Musgrove has now made a rehab start for High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. In these three starts he has allowed just three runs on seven hits in 12 2/3 innings he pitched. He has not allowed a home run, he has not walked a batter, and he has struck out 13. Additionally, of the seven hits he has allowed two came off the bat of 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson who was also on a rehab assignment when Musgrove was pitching at the High-A level.
The Pirates plan for Musgrove to make one more rehab start and then he should be ready to join the team. The question will then become who is the odd man out in the Pirate starting rotation?
Nick Kingham is set to rejoin the Pirate rotation against the San Diego Padres on Saturday (May 19th), and if this start is anything like his first two there is no way he can be taken out of the rotation. Jameson Taillon and Ivan Nova are not going anywhere, leaving Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl.
While Williams has had some control issues this season, he has done enough work in his past 32 starts (3.52 ERA, 3.96 FIP) that it would be very difficult to remove him from the rotation. This leaves Kuhl who owns a 5.07 FIP this season and has had issues with the long ball as his 1.79 HR/9 is ninth worst among National League starting pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched.
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It is unlikely that either Williams or Kuhl would be moved to the bullpen, as optioning one to Triple-A to stay stretched out to help preserve starting pitching depth makes more sense. So, odds are, one of the two, or Kingham, will return to Triple-A when Musgrove is back which will be sooner rather than later.