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Kingham appears in line to start again for Bucs

No. 12 prospect demoted to Double-A to keep him on schedule for May 19 opening
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates appear to be lining up Nick Kingham for another start in the big leagues.

The Bucs on Thursday transferred Kingham, who won his first two Major League starts, from Triple-A Indianapolis to Double-A Altoona. It seems likely that demotion will precede another promotion within the next two weeks.

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates appear to be lining up Nick Kingham for another start in the big leagues.

The Bucs on Thursday transferred Kingham, who won his first two Major League starts, from Triple-A Indianapolis to Double-A Altoona. It seems likely that demotion will precede another promotion within the next two weeks.

Amid an eight-day stretch that includes three scheduled off-days, the Pirates won't technically need a fifth starter until May 19 unless there's a rainout or postponement. That's why Pittsburgh optioned Kingham back to Indianapolis on Monday. Kingham, the Pirates' No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline, returned to Triple-A and started Wednesday, allowing three runs over six innings against Louisville.

The right-hander's next outing on regular rest, then, would come Monday. One problem: Indianapolis is off on Monday.

But Altoona will host Richmond on Monday night, and the Double-A club already has Kingham listed to start that game. Assuming all goes well, Kingham would then be in line to pitch, on turn and regular rest, on May 19. The Pirates play the Padres that night at 7:05 p.m. ET at PNC Park.

Video: PIT@MIL: Kingham K's 7 over 5 1/3 innings

It's unclear where Kingham fits into Pittsburgh's plans beyond that spot start. Right-hander Joe Musgrove (shoulder strain) is expected to make two more starts to complete his Minor League rehab assignment, and the Pirates have insisted they plan to use Musgrove as a starter. Their other four starters -- Ivan Nova, Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl -- aren't going anywhere, either.

Kingham, 26, made a historic Major League debut on April 29, carrying a perfect game into the seventh inning. He struck out nine and allowed only one hit over seven innings against the Cardinals at PNC Park. That performance convinced the Pirates to keep him in the rotation for one more start, and he allowed four runs with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings against the Brewers at Miller Park last Friday.

In a corresponding Minor League move, the Pirates promoted 24-year-old right-hander J.T. Brubaker from Double-A to Triple-A. Brubaker, the Bucs' sixth-round Draft pick in 2015, posted a 1.80 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with a strikeout per inning in six starts for Altoona to begin this season.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Nick Kingham