CHICAGO — As expected, the Pirates today took RHP James McDonald out of the starting rotation and replaced him with RHP Kyle McPherson. McPherson will start Wednesday v. the Brewers @ PNC Park. Manager Clint Hurdle said McDonald’s late-season slump is not due to it being the home stretch of the season. “I don’t see fatigue,” Hurdle said. “The execution is what’s challenging. I think part of it is the maturation process.” Hurdle also called RHP Jeff Karstens into his office this morning and told him management wants to see Karstens work out of the bullpen before considering putting him back into the rotation. “We are not going to go with a six-man rotation,” Hurdle said.
»»» Karen Price and I spoke yesterday with the top trinity of Pirates management – owner Bob Nutting, president Frank Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington — about what effect, if any, the past few weeks will have on the makeup of the front office and coaching staff next year. It doesn’t sound like any changes are in the works. I’ll give the last word on the matter to Nutting: “It’s been in incredibly, intensely frustrating last several weeks. What I do know is Clint and our leadership team is focused on everything we can do to get ourselves back on track. There’s still baseball left to be played and we need to get it turned around. We also need to understand what happened as we’re looking forward toward next year as well. The team played extraordinarily well through three-quarters of the season and we got the chance to see the positive impact that Neal and the decisions he has made has had on the team so far.”
»»» Barring a last-minute kiss-and-make up, the Pirates will not re-up with the short-season Class A State College Spikes. Two weeks ago, the Pirates offered a four-year contract, which the Spikes turned down. Monday, there seemed to be agreement for a two-year deal, but the Pirates broke off contact. State College became a free agent franchise at 12:01 this morning, and probably will sign with the Cardinals. The Pirates could end up with either Jamestown or Batavia — who both have aging facilities and low fan interest.
Game 145: Pirates @ Cubs, 2:20 p.m. ET
Pirates (73-71): 1. Starling Marte lf, 2. Neil Walker 2b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Gaby Sanchez 1b, 6. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 7. Clint Barmes ss, 8. Rod Barajas c, 9. Jeff Locke lhp (0-1, 4.11)
Cubs (57-88): 1. Joe Mather cf, 2. Darwin Barney 2b, 3. Anthony Rizzo 1b, 4. Alfonso Soriano lf, 5. Starlin Castro ss, 6. Wellington Castillo c, 7. Dave Sappelt rf, 8. Luis Valbuena 3b, 9. Chris Volstad rhp (3-10, 5.99)