However, with the need for a spot starter on Monday and the expectation that the Pirates will need a fill-in starter throughout the season's final five weeks, management nixed its earlier decision to send McCutchen to Europe.
"We wanted him to pitch here," manager John Russell said. "With the rotation the way it was, we were going to have to come up with six or seven spot starts because of the innings some of our guys were going to get to and it allows us to cover those starts. We feel like he's done a very good job. He gives us a chance to see him, but also a very good chance to win games."
Though general manager Neal Huntington said on Friday that the club would not go to a straight six-man rotation in September, it appears that the Pirates are at least reconsidering it. When asked about the possibility of such a scenario, Russell answered: "We'll look into it."
Regardless, with Ross Ohlendorf and Kevin Hart in line to be shut down early because of escalating inning counts, McCutchen will get plenty of opportunity to showcase the dominance he's had in Triple-A Indianapolis since the All-Star break.
Since July 20, McCutchen has gone 5-1 with a 1.90 ERA in eight starts. In those 52 innings, McCutchen has walked just six while striking out 40. Overall, his season numbers sit at 13-6 with a 3.47 ERA in 24 starts.
"He started out OK, but these last couple months he's been throwing the ball very well," Russell said. "He's been very aggressive."
The Pirates cleared a spot on the 25-man roster for McCutchen, who was one of four players the Pirates acquired from the Yankees in last summer's Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade, by optioning Brian Bixler back to Triple-A after Sunday's 4-1 loss. The club still has to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for McCutchen before Monday.
McCutchen is just the first of a handful of Triple-A players who will be summoned in the upcoming week. Certainly Pittsburgh would have preferred to wait until rosters expand on Tuesday to make his callup official, but with Cincinnati scheduling the doubleheader for Monday, the team had no choice but to make the move now.
Replacing McCutchen on Team USA will be Triple-A starter Brad Lincoln, the Pirates' first-round Draft pick in 2006.
PIT: RHP Daniel McCutchen (0-0, -.-- ERA)
CIN: RHP Kip Wells (0-3, 5.85 ERA)
McCutchen will be summoned to make his Major League debut and start the first game of the Pirates' doubleheader against the Reds. Just last week, McCutchen had committed to play for Team USA in the upcoming World Cup tournament. However, McCutchen's deserving credentials prompted management to change its mind.
On Wednesday vs. the Brewers, Wells pitched five innings, allowing three earned runs and seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts during his first big league start since July 21, 2008, with the Rockies. Wells had runners on base in each of his first four innings, but kept putting zeroes on the board until the fifth when he gave up three runs on two home runs.
PIT: LHP Paul Maholm (7-7, 4.59 ERA)
CIN: RHP Johnny Cueto (8-10, 4.61 ERA)
Maholm has had an up-and-down season, but he might be saving his best for last. In his past two starts, a win against the Brewers and a no-decision against the Phillies, he's looked more like pitcher who earned the Opening Day start than he has in a while. He gave up just two runs in 14 2/3 over those two starts. An even better sign is that he induced 25 ground-ball outs, showing perhaps that he's got his sinker working better than he has since the beginning of the season.
Cueto will be activated from the disabled list to make the start. He's been out with right shoulder inflammation. In his last start on Aug. 15, a 10-6 loss the Nationals, Cueto gave up seven earned runs and eight hits over 2 2/3 innings. His record is 0-6 with a 10.64 ERA over his last eight starts.
Catcher Ryan Doumit and shortstop Ronny Cedeno both returned to the lineup on Sunday. Cedeno missed seven starts with a fractured right pinky finger, though he did go 3-for-4 as a pinch-hitter. Doumit had been benched mid-game on Friday and then sat out on Saturday before returning to the lineup. He was also moved back into his normal cleanup spot after having hit fifth in each of his starts since Aug. 18. ... The Pirates' games against Cincinnati on Monday are the first of 10 more scheduled contests between the two clubs before the end of the season. ... Steve Pearce enters Monday 8-for-23 with three doubles, one homer and six RBIs in his past six starts. He was out of the starting lineup on Sunday after making five straight starts.
On the Internet
Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.
Official game notes
Tuesday: Pirates (Charlie Morton, 3-6, 5.00) at Reds (Justin Lehr, 3-1, 4.19), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Pirates (Zach Duke, 10-12, 3.68) at Reds (Homer Bailey, 4-4, 6.04), 12:35 p.m. ET