Van Benschoten to fill Gorzelanny's spot
Reliever steps into Wednesday's outing for beleaguered starter
MILWAUKEE -- Tom Gorzelanny's loss serves to potentially be John Van Benschoten's gain.
With the Pirates' decision to option Gorzelanny to Triple-A on Saturday, Van Benschoten stands in line to be the immediate replacement in the rotation.
"It's John Van Benschoten's time," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We need someone to step up and take that spot and run with it and become a Major League pitcher. John is going to get that first chance."
Van Benschoten will make the start Wednesday, which would have been Gorzelanny's next scheduled start.
Though Gorzelanny had not proven the ability to pitch effectively in the Majors this season, the question was asked of Huntington as to whether putting Van Benschoten into the rotation would give the team a better chance of winning every fifth day.
"We got to a point where we're not talking about Tom Gorzelanny with 14 wins and 200-plus innings last year," Huntington answered. "We're talking about a pitcher that is running out there with, unfortunately, nearly a 6.50 ERA, so that's what we're replacing."
On paper, it would seem that the Pirates are replacing one struggling pitcher with another. Van Benschoten, the team's first-round pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, has an 8.82 ERA in 16 career starts.
He has made two spot starts this season, one lasting four innings and the other 2 1/3 frames. Van Benschoten was charged with five runs on five hits (including three homers) in a start at Cincinnati on Wednesday.
However, the Pirates continue to point to Van Benschoten's results in Triple-A as a reason to remain confident that he still has the potential to be successful in the Majors. The 28-year-old right-hander has gone 7-2 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts this year.
"John Van Benschoten's career track record has not been good," Huntington said. "His last start certainly wasn't something that made you comfortable and confident. But his work to date has shown he has the ability. He just needs to go apply it."
It remains to be seen how long a leash the Pirates will have with Van Benschoten. Huntington did mention Triple-A right-hander Ty Taubenheim and Double-A pitcher Yoslan Herrera as potential candidates for the rotation spot if Van Benschoten can't fill in adequately.
Taubenheim pitched six innings and allowed two runs in a spot start in Pittsburgh last weekend, while Herrera is soon to be promoted to Triple-A after posting a 2.87 ERA in 16 starts with Altoona.
It remains unlikely that the Pirates will go outside of the organization right now to find another starter.
"We feel like we have exhausted what is out there from a free agent standpoint and from a Minor League standpoint," Huntington said.
The only scenario that could throw a wrench in manager John Russell's plans to send Van Benschoten to the mound Wednesday would be if he has to call on the right-hander for extended use out of the bullpen during the next four days.
That remains a possibility, considering Phil Dumatrait and Ian Snell will be limited in their pitch counts as they come off the disabled list to make starts Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.