Padres-Pirates preview

PITTSBURGH -- After a few days of secrecy surrounding Pittsburgh's starter Tuesday when it hosts the San Diego Padres for the opening of a three-game series, the Pirates divulged that Chad Kuhl will be on the mound.

That's not a shock, considering Kuhl has been brought up from Triple-A Indianapolis before in such situations.

This time, though, could be different. Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington indicated that Kuhl could stick around and become a regular part of the rotation, at least for a stretch of time.

Huntington probably wasn't intentionally heaping pressure on the 23-year-old right-hander to pitch well Tuesday, but what will be his fifth big-league start sets up as awfully important for his immediate future.

"If he keeps that low- to mid-90s sinker at the bottom of the zone and gets them to beat the ball into the ground and throws enough good sliders and changeups to mix and match, he's going to be a successful major league pitcher," Huntington said Sunday of Kuhl. "He did that on occasion, but more often than not, (his pitches) were elevated. That's not how he's going to be a successful major league pitcher.

"(We want to see him make a) few minor adjustments, get him back to pounding the bottom of the zone, and he's got a chance to keep this spot in this rotation."

Kuhl is 1-0 in his four starts, with a 4.19 ERA. In 19 innings, he has allowed nine runs on 19 hits, including two homers, with five walks and 13 strikeouts.

The Pirates have worked and reworked their rotation, and the future seems to rest heavily with a crop of young pitchers.

Pittsburgh shipped high-priced Francisco Liriano to Toronto at the trade deadline and sent Jonathan Niese, who had been relegated to the bullpen, back to the Mets. Juan Nicasio and Jeff Locke have been moved to the bullpen.

Although he is an established starter, Gerrit Cole is just 25. Jameson Taillon, 24, who is scheduled to face the Padres on Thursday, has all but sewn up a spot in the rotation.

The Pirates think highly of Tyler Glasnow, 22, who is on the DL with a shoulder injury. He is scheduled to throw a simulated game Tuesday before starting a rehab assignment.

Steven Brault, 24, who has been called up for two spot starts, also is on the horizon.

The two most veteran members of the staff are newly acquired Ivan Nova, 29, and Ryan Vogelsong, who at 39 is just rounding into form after missing more than two months because of facial fractures.

Vogelsong is scheduled to face San Diego on Wednesday.

"We do have alternatives, but our anticipation is that Ryan will continue to give us a chance to win," Huntington said. "As we feel he's able to do that, he'll remain starting."

The future, though, is with the youth.

"Ultimately, we need them to be them," Huntington said of the young members of the organization. "There's a reason we put (rookies) in position to get starts or get the ball out of the bullpen or get at-bats. They've shown us abilities."

San Diego also has some young arms, and will send rookie right-hander Luis Perdomo, 23, out Tuesday against Kuhl.

Perdomo (5-5) has a 6.67 ERA, but it is 4.07 over his past seven appearances. Last Tuesday, he threw a season-high 113 pitches against Milwaukee while allowing three runs on 10 hits (also a career high) over 6 2/3 innings, with four walks and six strikeouts.

"I wanted to go out there and have a good outing," Perdomo, speaking through an interpreter, told the San Diego Union Tribune. "I was deep into my pitch count, but I definitely wanted to get through the seventh and wasn't able to get that last out.

"You have to be aggressive and you have to attack batters and you have to enjoy that challenge to get to the seventh and get deeper into the game."

The Padres might get deeper into their staff in the coming days. San Diego and Pittsburgh each were off Monday, but the Padres are facing 16 days before their next open date.

Padres manager Andy Green said he might temporarily go with a six-man rotation, with Clayton Richard, who signed with the club Saturday, as potentially the sixth man after being available out of the bullpen during the Pittsburgh series.