The Pirates could send James McDonald to the bullpen

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After James McDonald was knocked around for seven runs over 4 2/3 innings against the Padres last Friday, I speculated that the Pirates could move him to the bullpen while giving Kevin Correia another extended look in the starting rotation. It appears that is exactly what is being considered right now.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said that the club will “more than likely” return to a five-man rotation next week after they return from a six-game road trip to St. Louis and San Diego. Correia was demoted to the bullpen following the acquisition of Wandy Rodriguez last month, but the Pirates recently instituted a six-man rotation while playing 20 games in the span of 20 days.

Hurdle said “there is conversation going on” about who will go to the bullpen, but with Rodriguez, A.J. Burnett, Jeff Karstens and Erik Bedard pretty solid locks to remain in the rotation, the fifth spot is expected to come down to either Correia or McDonald.

McDonald posted a fantastic 2.37 ERA and 100/31 K/BB ratio over 17 starts during the first half, but his hold on a rotation spot is suddenly tenuous thanks to an ugly 8.71 ERA and 26/21 K/BB ratio over 31 innings in six starts since the All-Star break. With the Pirates in the thick of the playoff race, they can’t afford to wait much longer for him to turn it around. He’ll have one more chance to make a favorable impression this Friday against the Cardinals.

Brandon Woodruff headed to IL with oblique injury

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Update (8:33 PM ET): Woodruff is headed to the 10-day injured list with a left oblique injury, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff exited Sunday afternoon’s start against the Diamondbacks in the fourth inning due to abdominal discomfort, the team announced. He threw a pitch to leadoff batter Tim Locastro and left the field with a trainer. Junior Guerra relieved him.

In three-plus innings, Woodruff was on the hook for four runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts. He now carries a 3.75 ERA with a 136/29 K/BB ratio in 117 2/3 innings of work.

Woodruff will undergo testing, which should allow the team to provide an update on his status, likely on Monday.