Pirates forced to rethink pitching options

Pirates forced to rethink pitching options

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates had been quite transparent in their hopes that, once this season hit its stride and the starting rotation issued the almost predictable call for help, Jameson Taillon would be there to answer.

They now know better. Taillon will soon undergo Tommy John surgery that might have him miss the 2015 season as well, if his recovery is on the long end of the typical 12-18 month period.

So who will offer the lifeline, if needed? There is no shortage of candidates.

"We had talked about hoping Jameson being in position to help us this summer," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington acknowledged. "Someone else will have to step into that situation. Someone in the current bullpen? Jeff Locke? Brandon Cumpton, Phil Irwin, or somebody else?"

Jeanmar Gomez or Stolmy Pimentel, currently long men in the bullpen, would be top options.

Locke, the 2013 All-Star lefty currently on the DL fully recovering from right-side discomfort, has already dialed up his rehab with Bradenton.

Cumpton fired six shutout innings on Saturday in his first start for Triple-A Edmonton. If and when the righty checks back in, he will be looking to add to a streak of 15 consecutive shutout innings at the big-league level.

Irwin is a little behind schedule, still stretching out his arm after missing most of Spring Training with slight elbow discomfort.

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.