PITTSBURGH -- Despite his struggles this season as a starter, Brad Lincoln will get the nod Saturday against the Detroit Tigers at PNC Park, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle announced Wednesday. While Lincoln was effective in a spot start mid-May against Miami, the right-hander has gone 0-2 with a 10.03 ERA in three June starts. "It's been a work in progress, and the results haven't necessarily been what we have wanted," Hurdle said, "but I think we need to give this young man a chance to channel through the transition period, which isn't as easy as some people might think it is."
The manager stressed the importance of patience with regards to Lincoln's role in the rotation, especially because starting pitchers are such valued products across baseball. "I do think it's him nailing down a mentality and a commitment in which he goes about his opportunities to start," Hurdle said, "to make the pitches he needs to make with the focus he needs to have, to start innings as well as finish innings." As a relief pitcher, Lincoln has had a much more positive impact on the Pirates' pitching. In 20 innings out of the bullpen, he has allowed just one earned run, a homer to Martin Prado in an April loss at Atlanta. In his 13 relief appearances, the Pirates 2006 first-round pick has 23 strikeouts to go with just seven walks. Opponents have hit .171 against Lincoln as a reliever, but are batting .346 against him as a starter.