Pirates' RHP Gerrit Cole may move to bullpen before season's end

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Cole has been having a very nice rookie campaign, but may move to the bullpen in preparation for the playoffs.

The Pittsburgh Pirates may move starting pitcher Gerrit Cole to the bullpen to prepare for a potential postseason appearance, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

More Pirates coverage: Bucs Dugout

A team that makes the postseason usually will go to a four-man rotation throughout the playoffs, taking away the need for a fifth starter. It appears Cole would be the odd man out with Jeff Locke, Wandy Rodriguez, A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano all ahead of him on the depth chart.

A move to the bullpen sometime in September would allow Cole to regain familiarity with the role. It has been four years since the young pitcher last came out in relief. The move would also come with the added side bonus of helping maintain Cole's innings. The 22-year-old has tossed 140 frames between Triple-A and the MLB this season after pitching 132 innings in 2012, his first professional season.

While Cole says he is open to the move if it means he can contribute, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle says the possibility has not been discussed at length by team management.

"That's really a conversation that doesn't really have any legs at this time whatsoever," Hurdle was quoted as saying. "It's more of a thought that's popped over a couple heads, but there hasn't been any lengthy conversation."

In 12 starts for the Pirates since being called up in mid-June, Cole has a 3.88 ERA and 1.139 WHIP. Cole was rated the seventh best prospect nationwide by Baseball America prior to the season.

The Pirates lead the NL Central by two games with division rivals St. Louis and Cincinnati ahead in the race for the two NL wildcard spots.

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