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Pirates

Pirates notebook: Kuhl, Taillon to have starts skipped

| Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, 4:30 p.m.
Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl delivers during the first inning against the Cardinals on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl delivers during the first inning against the Cardinals on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, at PNC Park.
Jameson Taillon is one of six pitchers on the current Pirates roster to have spent significant time with Indianapolis pitching coach Stan Kyles this season.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Jameson Taillon is one of six pitchers on the current Pirates roster to have spent significant time with Indianapolis pitching coach Stan Kyles this season.

The Pirates will skip the next scheduled starts of rookie pitchers Chad Kuhl and Jameson Taillon, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Thursday.

Drew Hutchison, who was acquired from the Toronto at the trade deadline, will start Saturday in place of Kuhl, and Gerrit Cole will return from the disabled list to start in place of Taillon on Monday in Philadelphia. Hurdle said Kuhl and Taillon then will be inserted back into the rotation.

Why skip Kuhl and Taillon?

“It's basically the innings,” Hurdle said. “Go ahead and take care of the innings pitched. That's what it is.”

Just as the Pirates protected the then-rookie Cole by reducing his second-half work in 2013, the Pirates are trying to protect what could be key rotation members for seasons to come.

After missing the 2014 and '15 seasons to injury, Taillon has thrown a professional high 149 23 innings this season between Triple-A and the majors. Kuhl has thrown 134 13 innings. He threw a professional-high 153 13 innings for High-A Bradenton in 2014.

Kuhl and Taillon perhaps are showing signs of fatigue.

Kuhl struggled in his last start Monday, failing to pitch into the third inning. Taillon labored through five innings Wednesday. His command was off. In nine of his previous 10 outings, he had pitched at least six innings.

The Pirates also might have an eye on 2017 and want to get a look at some of their young arms at the major league level. Hurdle said Trevor Williams was a candidate to start Saturday, but he pitched three innings Wednesday.

Glasnow in bullpen … for now

At the moment, top-rated prospect Tyler Glasnow is not being considered for the rotation.

Glasnow struggled with a number of issues in two major league starts earlier this season.

“Give him an opportunity to pitch in a less open-ended, more controlled situation,” Hurdle said of Glasnow in the bullpen. “Maybe some shorter looks initially just to fine-tune some things and get case specific — nail the delivery, the release point, because things have kind of gone … hot and cold.”

While Glasnow perhaps has the highest ceiling among the young Pirates arms, he also arguably is the furthest away. Breaking in a starting pitching prospect in the bullpen is not a new concept.

“The Cardinals have done it recently,” Hurdle said. “Back in the olden days, that's where the prospects (broke in), out of the bullpen.”

Who's in right?

Josh Bell was back in the lineup Thursday but in a new spot — right field.

The Pirates converted Bell from right field to first base last season, moving Bell from an organizational area of surplus to one of need. But the Pirates have continued to give Bell work in right field, allowing the club additional positional flexibility. Bell was playing right field once a week in Triple-A.

“I wanted to get his bat back in the lineup,” Hurdle said. “I thought this was a creative way to do it.”

Cole working on delivery

With his season interrupted three times by injury, Cole is searching for mechanical consistency as he readies to make his first start off the DL. Cole said he is working on staying over the pitching rubber longer, which he hopes improves his command.

“Being able to gather before you go down the mound,” Cole said. “It's something I've been fighting a lot. I've kind of slipped out of it a little bit. Keep trying to hammer those points, stay over the rubber better, so your body is not in front of your arm.”

Schugel expects to return

Reliever A.J. Schugel does not expect his sore right shoulder will keep him out the rest of the season.

Schugel has not pitched since Aug. 29, when he tossed one inning against the Chicago Cubs.

“I felt something (in the shoulder),” Schugel said. “I took a few days off, but it didn't feel the same. I couldn't get anything behind my throw. I don't think it's too serious, though.”

Staff writer Rob Biertempfel contributed. Travis Sawchik is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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