Pirates remove James McDonald from the rotation

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Not so long ago James McDonald was the Pirates’ ace, taking a 9-3 record, 2.37 ERA, and 100/31 K/BB ratio in 17 starts into the All-Star break.

Since then he’s got a 7.08 ERA in 12 starts, posting an ugly 51/37 K/BB ratio in 61 innings while serving up 13 homers. And today the Pirates announced that McDonald has been removed from the rotation and replaced by rookie Kyle McPherson, who has never started a big-league game.

The last straw apparently came Friday, when McDonald failed to make it out of the fourth inning against the Cubs while allowing four runs on five hits and four walks. He had a decent outing on September 8, but also lasted just 2.2 innings against the Brewers on September 2.

McPherson has been pitching in relief since being called up on August 20, but was a full-time starter in the minors with decent strikeout numbers and excellent control. He’ll pitch Wednesday night versus the Brewers, with McDonald working out of the bullpen.

And the Pirates must win at least eight of their remaining 18 games to avoid their 20th straight losing season.

Indians designate Carlos Gonzalez for assignment

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The Indians have designated outfielder Carlos Gonzalez for assignment. This comes after Gonzalez batted a mere .210/.282/.276 over 117 plate appearances in Cleveland. That came after he had to settle for a minor league contract with the Indians in mid-March.

A few years ago Gonzalez was a superstar, winning three Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger Awards, making the All-Star team three times and coming in third in the MVP balloting once upon a time. That was then, however. His most recent good season came in 2016, when he hit .298/.350/.505 with 25 homers and drove in 100. In 2017 and 2018 he combined to hit .232/.269/.334. Between his falloff in production and the fact that his big numbers of the past were heavily supported by playing at Coors Field, it should not be shocking that he couldn’t make it work in Cleveland.

If he wants to continue his career, he’ll no doubt have to take a minor league gig someplace. Otherwise, this could be the end of the line.