PITTSBURGH -- Erik Bedard has been a pitching contradiction in his first season with the Pirates. As he showed in his brilliant seven shutout innings of two-hit ball in Monday night's 4-0 win over the D-backs, he can be lights-out -- that was his fifth start of seven-plus innings while allowing two earned runs or fewer.
At other times his lights have been punched out. Bedard is tied for the Major League lead in losses, with 12, and five times has lasted fewer than five innings while giving up five or more runs.
There may be a solution: Have him pitch on five days' rest, and to Rod Barajas.
That has occurred seven times, and in those starts Bedard has an ERA of 3.31. And those were the conditions on Monday, when he tended arguably his best effort in years.
No disrespect to Michael McKenry, one of the most impressively improved players in the Major Leagues. In fact, McKenry was behind the plate for one of three second-half starts made by Bedard on five days' rest -- and Bedard has an ERA of 0.87 in those three.
But there is a certain synergy between the veteran Bedard and the veteran Barajas, and that was on obvious display against the D-backs.
"I pay attention to the time between a sign going down and the pitch getting off," manager Clint Hurdle said, "and [on Monday] night the level of trust was unconditional. One time in the game, the sign-and-delivery was not done in two, three seconds -- out of the 80 pitches he threw. That's impressive."