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Pitching staff stays in flux

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SAN DIEGO — The pitching carousel kept spinning this afternoon, as newbies Justin Wilson and Kyle McPherson were sent back to Triple-A Indy. Daniel McCtuchen was recalled and Chad Qualls was activated from the bereavement list. Judging from your initial reactions on Twitter, I’m guessing those moves are not popular among the hard-core fan base.

McPherson’s quick departure was not a surprise to me. I figured he’d be the most likely candidate to go when Qualls returned today. McPherson is a starter and he needs to get back to Indy to stay on track. I figured Wilson might stay around until Friday, when Jordy Mercer comes back from daddy duty. Unlike, McPherson, Wilson is slotted for relief work the rest of this season — and he almost certainly will be back in Pittsburgh when rosters expand Sept. 1. I’m not sure if management trusts him enough yet to make him eligible for the playoff roster — Wilson still puts too many guys on base — but his skill set makes him a keeper with an expanding role in the big leagues going forward.

But if the front office is confident Wilson can make a difference in October, then it still makes a lot of sense to send him down now. Wilson is still a newbie when it comes to bullpen duty. Let him put in some relief appearances at Indy and experience different situations — enter in the middle of an inning, pitch back-to-back days, start an inning fresh, start with runners in scoring position. The 10-day clock on when he’s allowed to return to the majors starts today. It ends Aug. 31, which — perhaps not concidentally — is the deadline to set playoff rosters. Anyone called up Sept. 1 or later can’t pitch for you in the postseason.

»»» Tonight, A.J. Burnett hopes to become the third 16-game winner in the NL this year, joining Gio Gonzalez and Johnny Cueto. The last Pirate to reach 16-plus victories was Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek, who went 22-6 in 1990.

»»» Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to MLBPA head Michael Weiner, who ius under going treatment for a brain tumor. I’ve dealt with Weiner on a couple of occasions, and always found him easy to work with, respectful and patient, no matter how trivial the question.

Game 123: Pirates @ Padres, 10:05 p.m. ET

Pirates (67-55): 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Travis Snider rf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Neil Walker 2b, 5. Garrett Jones 1b, 6. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 7. Clint Barmes ss, 8. Rod Barajas c, 9. A.J. Burnett (15-4, 3.54)

Padres (54-70): 1. Everth Cabrera ss, 2. Will Venable rf, 3. Chase Headley 3b, 4. Carlos Quentin lf, 5. Yasmani Grandal c, 6. Yonder Alonso 1b, 7. Alexi Amarista 2b, 8. Cameron Maybin cf, 9. Jason Marquis rhp (6-7, 4.08)

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