Moving past an up-and-down season
BRADENTON, Fla. -- At this time last season, Daniel McCutchen was in a two-man race for the No. 5 spot in the Pirates' rotation, a battle he ultimately won over fellow right-hander Kevin Hart.
Now, the 28-year-old is no longer being mentioned in the rotation talk. Instead, he's part of a crowded mix -- including Jeff Karstens, Chris Resop, the loser in this year's fight for the fifth starter spot and several left-handers -- competing for a place in the bullpen.
Where he'll end up is up in the air.
"One thing with McCutchen is, he's a jack-of-all-trades," pitching coach Ray Searage said. "We can use him in multiple roles -- middle relief, spot starter, starter. We'll see how things play out during the spring. He's getting every chance to keep himself sharp and, if we get the opportunity to stretch him out for two, three innings, we're going to give him that opportunity."
McCutchen, acquired from the New York Yankees in 2008 with Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Tabata for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte, spent most of 2009 with Triple-A Indianapolis and was the team MVP.
He made his first Pirates start of 2010 on April 11 and his last Oct. 1. In between, he was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis and subsequently recalled three times, then was moved to the bullpen in early August before appearing again as a starter later that month.
The guy recognized as having the best changeup in the organization by Baseball America before the season finished 2-5 with a 6.12 ERA. What McCutchen took away from all of the changes, he said, was to not give opposing batters too much credit.
"It is a higher level of a game and you don't get away with as many mistakes, but still, if you make your pitches and pitch the right way, outs will still count," he said. "It's maybe just not putting the guys you're facing on a higher level than you."
McCutchen pitched a scoreless inning Sunday against Toronto, allowing back-to-back singles before retiring three straight Blue Jays.
The goal now, he said, is to focus on taking his stuff -- a two-seam fastball that he has to keep down but has been pleased with lately, plus a changeup, sinker and slider he feels has come a long way -- and switching on the mental side of pitching.
"You can look around at a lot of pitchers with so-called average stuff, but being able to pitch, that's what separates guys," he said. "It's locating, it's changing speeds, pitching in and out. Sometimes, you're out there, and you know the hitters don't have a clue what's coming. Then sometimes, when things are going bad, it feels like I'm throwing a 2-1 changeup right here, but I know this guy knows a 2-1 changeup's coming.
"You just want to be on the other side -- where the hitter's flustered and not you."
Season in Review
Pirates right-hander Daniel McCutchen began and ended last season as a starter, but a lot happened in between. A look at his 2010:
Date -- Action Of note
April 11 -- First start Allows nine earned runs in 3 1⁄3 innings for loss
April 12 -- Optioned to Triple-A Makes no appearances for Indianapolis
April 17 -- Recalled Gets a no-decision, then yields six runs in 3 2⁄3 innings of third start and makes one scoreless relief appearance
April 25 -- Optioned Posts win, then loses three of next four decisions; wins back-to-back starts, then loses back-to-back starts
June 26 -- Recalled Loses first start, then gets first win July 1 and follows it with another loss
July 8 -- Optioned Goes 0-3 in three starts with a 4.42 ERA
July 31 -- Recalled Suffers loss in seventh start
August 3 -- Moved to bullpen Makes eight straight appearances in relief, allowing two earned runs in 9 1⁄3 innings
Aug. 25 -- Makes eighth start Pitches six scoreless innings for second win, then returns to bullpen
Oct. 1 -- Final start Allows one run in four innings for no-decision
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Crosby scores twice, Malkin delivers OT goal as Penguins beat Blues
- Friends, family, history lure natives back to Western Pennsylvania
- Starkey: Artie Rowell’s incredible odyssey
- Intruder in Carrick makes off with cash, weapon
- Excela, Pitt-Greensburg team on legacy videos for those in twilight of lives
- Emotional send-off awaits Pitt seniors
- Annual Holiday Parade to celebrate all things Pittsburgh
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- 1 dead, 1 injured after crash in North Point Breeze