Earlier today the Pirates officially announced that James McDonald will no longer be a member of the team’s starting rotation, effective immediately. McDonald, who was in the midst of a breakout season, is 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA overall but owns a 7.08 ERA since July 13. Since that time period, opposing batters are hitting a combined .286/.379/.527 off of the 27-year-old.
Because he started out the season so well, the year still has to be considered a success for McDonald despite this latest setback. He’s walking 3.6 hitters per nine innings compared to 3.9 for his career, and his strikeout rate remains as solid as ever (7.9 per nine). All told, the right-hander has been worth 1.7 WAR on the season according to FanGraphs, so this is still his strongest season despite the recent struggles.
The Pirates, who have gone 10-24 since August 8, find themselves in danger once again of finishing a season below the .500 mark despite a strong first half. They remain just two games back of the second NL Wild Card spot, so they’re still fighting for a post-season appearance and cannot hesitate to make roster moves like this one if they feel it improves the team. Kyle McPherson will step into McDonald’s spot and face the Brewers on Wednesday.