Wilson may provide relief down the stretch

Wilson may provide relief down the stretch

Wilson may provide relief down the stretch
PITTSBURGH -- There was plenty of talk by manager Clint Hurdle about the pitching at Triple-A Indianapolis before Tuesday's game against Arizona, and much of it centered on left-hander Justin Wilson.

Hurdle announced that the 24-year-old Wilson, who has made 23 starts this season, is moving to the bullpen, which makes it more likely that he'll be called up to aid the Pirates' relief corps as the season's second half continues.

"As you look to get through August, if somebody goes down, you've got to have a Plan B, a Plan C," Hurdle said. "And then, obviously, when you open up the gates in September, when you can add to the 40-man [roster], you can add different looks and different options out of the bullpen to be as chaotic for the other team as you can be, and resourceful for yourself."

In addition to Wilson, who has a 4.14 ERA to go along with his 121 strikeouts and 63 walks, Hurdle mentioned Chris Leroux, Jeff Locke, Rick VandenHurk and Doug Slaten as pitchers whose successes in Indianapolis have drawn the attention of the big league club.

But Hurdle seemed particularly impressed by Wilson, whom he compared with former Pirates pitcher Brad Lincoln. Both saw increases in their velocity upon joining the bullpen.

"You put them in that one-inning role, and they know they've only got to fire for one inning, and they just let it [go]," Hurdle said. "They're not holding anything back. They're not figuring to get through five [innings] or get 100 pitches under their belt."

In regard to Wilson's velocity, Hurdle said, "It did spike toward the back end of the 90s."

"Command is still his calling card," he added. "That had been the one challenge for Justin moving forward, whether it's been starting, whether it's been in the bullpen. He's the kind of kid that, if that part of his game can be put under control, [he] could be special."