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Pirates notebook: Clint Hurdle says starters need to help bullpen

Jerry DiPaola
| Sunday, April 8, 2018, 5:42 p.m.
Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl delivers during the third inning against the Reds on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl delivers during the third inning against the Reds on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at PNC Park.
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco celebrates his two-run homer during the fifth inning against the Reds Sunday, April 8, 2018, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco celebrates his two-run homer during the fifth inning against the Reds Sunday, April 8, 2018, at PNC Park.

Not only does Pirates manager Clint Hurdle expect his starters to go longer than six innings once in a while — none had pitched into the seventh before Jameson Taillon's complete-game gem Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds — but Hurdle said he expected it “three days ago.”

“We need more length from our starters,” he said. “That's the one area we have room for improvement.”

He might have added the bullpen to that list, with five of the eight relief pitchers holding ERAs between 5.40 (Edgar Santana) and 12.27 (Dovydas Neverauskas). Michael Feliz (9.00), Felipe Rivero (9.82) and George Kontos (7.20) also have struggled at times.

“I still believe this group is capable of being a good bullpen,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “We've had eight games in which we've had brutal weather. It's tough conditions to pitch in.”

Musgrove update

Huntington said pitcher Joe Musgrove (sore shoulder) will need “a couple” of starts before he can join the starting rotation. He is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list Monday, but that won't happen.

Huntington said Musgrove is in a “no-throw” period and will “play catch” before a determination is made.

Meanwhile, Ivan Nova will start Monday in the Chicago Cubs' home opener, followed by Steven Brault on Wednesday. Brault remains in the rotation at least until Musgrove is able to pitch. Trevor Williams will start Thursday in Chicago.

Monday will mark Nova's second opening day start this season (Detroit and Chicago).

You know them

Former Pirates Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen reached historic milestones Saturday for their new teams.

Cole struck out 11 for the second consecutive game, setting a Houston Astros record for most strikeouts by a pitcher in his first two games with the team.

McCutchen hit a walk-off, three-run homer in the 14th inning among his six hits in seven at-bats to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 7-5 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He became only the second player since 1900 to get six hits, including a walk-off home run. He is the first player to hit a walk-off home run with his team trailing in the 14th inning or later since McCutchen did it at PNC Park against the Cardinals three years ago.

“That was the game Cervelli and I watched,” Hurdle said, laughing.

He and catcher Francisco Cervelli were ejected in the second inning while arguing with home plate umpire Vic Carapazza.

“Good for him (Cole) and wonderful for Andrew,” Hurdle said. “I'm happy for any of our players who go on.”

Altoona update

The Pirates placed pitcher Jesus Liranzo on the seven-day disabled list with a left ankle sprain. The team claimed Liranzo from the Dodgers on Thursday.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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