James McDonald Yanked From Pirates' Rotation

James McDonald #53 and Rod Barajas #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates talk against the Chicago Cubs during the game on September 8, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Pirates thrived during the first half of this season, and James McDonald was one of the biggest reasons as he went 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA.

The Pirates have collapsed in the second half, with James McDonald one of the biggest reasons; in McDonald's dozen starts since the All-Star break, he's just 3-5 with a 7.08 ERA.

So with the Pirates struggling to remain relevant in the Wild Card standings, McDonald's outing Friday night against the Cubs -- he didn't survive the fourth inning -- was the last straw. Via MLB.com:

Right-hander James McDonald has been removed from the Pirates rotation, manager Clint Hurdle said Sunday.

Right-hander Kyle McPherson will take McDonald's spot in the rotation Wednesday against the Brewers.

"You want your starters to pitch well and as the games count down, we've got to look to give ourselves the best shot that we can have at winning a game," Hurdle said. "Based on James' inconsistency the second half, as I shared with him, when James is right, James is a valuable addition to our ballclub. He's had his challenges the second half."

McPherson, a rookie, has pitched only 11⅔ innings this season with the Pirates, all of them in relief. In the minors, he did pitch effectively in a dozen starts.

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