Pirates plan for six-man rotation

Pirates plan for six-man rotation

PITTSBURGH -- Manager John Russell revealed a little more about his team's pitching plans for the final month of the season, saying on Friday that the plan is to go to a six-man rotation after Sept. 1.

The Pirates will call up right-hander Ross Ohlendorf following Triple-A Indianapolis' final regular season game on Monday. Ohlendorf will be one of a group of players that the Pirates will add to their Major League club once rosters expand at the beginning of September.

Ohlendorf, who the Pirates acquired from the Yankees in the Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade in late July, will immediately be plugged into the rotation, though not at the expense of any of the team's current five starters.

"It works out pretty well I think," Russell said of employing a six-man rotation. "We still haven't solidified it, but we've put together a rough draft of how we want it to work. It might be six for two or three times around the rotation and then drop it down depending on where we're at."

After Monday's off-day, the Pirates will play on 20 consecutive days. The team will have an off-day on Sept. 22, before finishing the season with six games on the road.

Since joining Indianapolis, Ohlendorf has gone 3-3 in six starts. During that span, the 6-foot-4 right-hander has posted a 3.24 ERA and has pitched through at least the sixth in each of his starts. He has 35 strikeouts and has walked just eight.

Ohlendorf's last start for the Indians will be Friday, which would make him available to pitch for the Pirates any time after next Tuesday.

As for the rest of the rotation, Russell is currently not putting any limitations on any of his regular starters. However, Paul Maholm's workload will be eyed closely.

Maholm will almost certainly pass his innings total from 2007 (177 2/3) when he makes his start on Saturday. The left-hander set a preseason goal of eclipsing the 200-innings mark this season, and Russell will give him every opportunity to do so. However, management does not want the left-hander significantly exceeding that mark.

"Right now, we don't really feel like we have to hold him back," Russell said. "We'll see how it goes. If he throws eight or nine innings in the next few, we may have to reevaluate."

Since he is pitching on Saturday, Maholm, who has pitched 174 innings up to this point, would be in line to make four starts in September, if a six-man rotation is used through the month's entirety. If, for example, Maholm threw six innings in each of those last five season starts, that would put him just over the 200-innings mark. Keep in mind that Maholm has thrown at least six innings in each of his last 20 starts.

How Maholm reaches 200 innings -- meaning how efficient his pitch counts are and the level of stress put on his arm -- will also play a role as the management discusses whether or not to cut down his workload in those final weeks of the season.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.