Pregame: Plotting the pitching

Just like in this photo from 2009, Steve Pearce is wearing his socks high again.
Just like in this photo from 2009, Steve Pearce is wearing his socks high again.

HOUSTON — A week ago, I wrote about how each of the five starters are on pace to crack career highs in innings pitched this season. How well skipper Clint Hurdle handles the rotation — using spot starters to give guys a blow, keeping an eye on pitch counts in games, managing the bullpen — could have a lot to say about where the Pirates finish this season.

That being said, GM Neal Huntington doesn’t want to create the impression there’s a need to panic about the starters running out of gas down the stretch. “We’re defnintely aware of it, but it’s not like we’ve got five 22-year-olds who are reaching innings thresholds they’ve never reached before,” Huntington said. “Part of the strategy of the rotation coming out of the All-Star break is giving some guys some extra rest. Paul Maholm wants to stay on that fifth day and he’s pitched effectively. Do you give (Kevin) Correia, Charlie (Morton) and James (McDonald) extra rest? As we go through off days, do we skip a guy’s start? Do we look to get him out after 90-95 pitches? Do we do something different on the side or with his throwing program? We’re very cognizant of it. But unlike in the past, when we’ve had guys get to innings thresholds they’ve never been to before, or they’re younger and still developing, it’s not a driving factor.”

»»» A few minutes ago, lefty Joe Beimel was activated off the disabled list. Daniel Moskos was sent back to Triple-A Indy last night to create room on the active roster.

»»» Indy broadcaster Scott McCauley writes today in his blog that Steve Pearce, who’s on a rehab stint with the Triple-A club, has a new look, both with his batting stance and his minor league uniform. Pearce homered last night as Indy’s designated hitter.

Lineups for today’s game:

Pirates (47-43) – 1. Alex Presley lf, 2. Chase d’Arnaud ss, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Andrew McCutchen cf, 5. Garrett Jones rf, 6. Lyle Overbay 1b, 7. Josh Harrison 3b, 8. Mike McKenry c, 9. Jeff Karstens rhp (7-4, 2.55)

Astros (30-62) – 1. Michael Bourn cf, 2. Matt Downs 3b, 3. Jeff Keppinger 2b, 4. Hunter Pence rf, 5. Carlos Lee lf, 6. Brett Wallace 1b, 7. Clint Barmes ss, 8. Humberto Quintero c, 9. Brett Myers rhp (3-9, 4.88)