PITTSBURGH -- Pirates staff had already been plotting ways to get rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole extra rest down the stretch, and Jeff Locke's latest hiccup raised the possibility of the left-hander also benefiting from a break.
Would trying to adjust two-fifths of the rotation complicate things? Not according to manager Clint Hurdle, who said the Bucs can consider their cases independently thanks to the trusted depth in the farm system.
"They're individuals," Hurdle said of Cole and Locke, "and we'll look at both on an individual basis. One does not affect the other. We have the organizational depth. We've been very confident in the moves we've made all season. We've got guys down there who are trending ... I love that word."
While Cole is being handled with care as a second-year pro, Locke has been trending downwards since the All-Star break. In 18 starts before the hiatus, he was allowing 6.3 hits per nine innings; in six starts since, that number had jumped to 12.1.
Left-hander Kris Johnson, called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday for immediate help in the bullpen, becomes a candidate to make a spot start. If he gets that opportunity, he would become the 12th different starter used by the Pirates, which would be the most since they went through 13 of them in 2008.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.