After Brad Lincoln's second consecutive poor start on Tuesday against the Orioles, Clint Hurdle was asked if Lincoln's job as a spot starter was up for grabs.

"We've got him scheduled to pitch the last game in Cleveland but we need him to pitch better." (Washington Post)


Why is Lincoln scheduled to pitch against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday? Especially when the organization boasts 7-8 legitimate starters from Pittsburgh to AAA Indianapolis. Why does Clint Hurdle enjoy banging his head against the wall expecting a different result?

As a starter this season, Lincoln is 1-2 with a 6.91 ERA. In his two previous starters, Lincoln failed to pitch five full innings while giving up nine combined runs in that span. In 13 relief appearances, Lincoln is 2-0 with a 0.45 ERA.

The Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde performances are linked to the strengths and weaknesses Lincoln possesses as a pitcher. Brad Lincoln is a two pitch-pitcher. He throws a mid-90s fastball and a sharp breaking ball. As a reliever, that works well since relievers rarely see the same hitter twice in the same game. However, a starter with only two pitches is a disaster waiting to happen. Imagine Mariano Rivera starting for the Yankees instead of closing; do you think his cutter would get bashed around by the 3rd or 4th inning? With Jeff Karstens recovering and Charlie Morton out for the season with Tommy John surgery, it is time for the Pirates to promote a starter from AAA.

It is time to free Rudy Owens.

After a disappointing 2011 season in AAA, Owens has been lights out for the Indianapolis Indians this season, posting a 5-2 record with a 2.29 ERA. The 2010 22nd round draft pick out of Chandler-Gilbert Community College has gone at least six innings in each start this season and has yet to allow more than three runs in any of them.

While Owens lacks experience at the big league level -his next start for the Pirates will be his first- he at least has the right frame of mind and the physical endurance to throw six solid innings. Adding him into the rotation while moving Lincoln back into the bullpen would be the most logical decision. Owens may not post video game numbers like Zach Duke did his rookie season, but he would be an improvement over Lincoln who would also benefit by pitching in relief.

Make the call Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle. Free Rudy Owens from AAA and, in the same process, free Brad Lincoln from the rotation.

Posted in Pittsburgh Pirates

Leave a Reply