I got no problem with Justin Wilson pitching the ninth. It wasn’t a save situation. One game in July at St. Louis isn’t worth improvising. Stick to the plan.

I got no problem with Tony Watson pitching one inning. Same reasoning applies, even though Watson did only throw five pitches.

I got no problem with Wilson serving up the walk-off HR to Matt Adams.

The problem was Matt Carpenter walking on four pitches to start the ninth. That’s where Wilson got himself in trouble.

Last night’s loss was frustrating. Not least to Charlie Morton, who allowed one hit in seven innings but saw another quality start go to waste.

For the Pirates’ pitching staff, however, the biggest damage occurred away from the mound. Gerrit Cole went on the 15-day DL with tightness in his back. Brandon Cumpton takes his place in the rotation.

The Pirates must hope (pray) that Cole’s absence doesn’t go beyond 15 days, and that his effectiveness returns as soon as he does. Without Cole, the Pirates’ pitching staff isn’t good enough to make the playoffs.

That’s true even if Francisco Liriano does well upon his return.

Liriano had a great rehab start in Class AAA. Six innings, three hits, no walks and eight strikeouts. Liriano retired the last 15 batters he faced.

But last season, the Pirates’ big three was Liriano, Cole and A.J. Burnett. Burnett is gone. The other two are vulnerable. The Pirates need rotation help.


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