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Pirates exercising patience with young starters

Glasnow, Kuhl struggling, but Hurdle optimistic about long-term success
MLB.com

NEW YORK -- With a trio of young starters in their rotation, the Pirates walk a fine line three of every five days. They want to see results, and they need to see development. Those two do not often stroll hand-in-hand.

Among all National League starters with at least 40 innings pitched, rookie Tyler Glasnow's 6.97 ERA is the third-highest and his 1.87 WHIP is the highest. Right-hander Chad Kuhl has a 6.02 ERA, seventh-highest in the NL, and a 1.58 WHIP that ranks sixth.

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NEW YORK -- With a trio of young starters in their rotation, the Pirates walk a fine line three of every five days. They want to see results, and they need to see development. Those two do not often stroll hand-in-hand.

Among all National League starters with at least 40 innings pitched, rookie Tyler Glasnow's 6.97 ERA is the third-highest and his 1.87 WHIP is the highest. Right-hander Chad Kuhl has a 6.02 ERA, seventh-highest in the NL, and a 1.58 WHIP that ranks sixth.

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In an ideal world, young players learn and progress from their early trials. Glasnow is struggling, for instance, but the former top prospect is also learning -- even, and perhaps especially, through failure.

Glasnow has dominated hitters when ahead in the count, holding them to a .203/.203/.367 slash line in those plate appearances, but he's getting beat up (.433/.626/.817) when falling behind. Kuhl has put together a few strong starts this season after a solid rookie year, but his numbers are dragged down by a handful of rough outings. He introduced a curveball in his most recent outing to vary his velocity and keep hitters off-balance.

Few young players find immediate success in the Majors, but those early growing pains often create bona fide big leaguers. Manager Clint Hurdle, pitching coach Ray Searage and general manager Neal Huntington take it all into consideration. They must be patient and optimistic, but also realistic.

Video: ARI@PIT: Kuhl strands a pair with a strikeout

"You deal with the reality of what's going on right now. However, you never lose hope," Hurdle said. "You have to deal with the facts, then how you can measure and balance, 'OK, here's what we've got.'

"Glasnow's got a 6.97 ERA. That's real. That's earned. What do you see him doing better? There's been points where when he does get ahead of hitters, he's been very effective putting them away.

"You also reassess, do you have better [options]? You've invested two months in two of the young starters at this time. What's the best way to maximize that traction that you've got? Is it to unplug? We're steadfast with our convictions of what we're doing, trying to help these men push through the challenges they're having to meet up here for the bigger vision and still be productive here and still win games."

History in the making
The Pirates had ties to two historical events on Saturday. Right-hander Edinson Volquez, who turned around his career with Pittsburgh in 2014, tossed a no-hitter for the Marlins against the D-backs. Hurdle said he watched part of Volquez's eighth inning and the entire ninth.

:: Edinson Volquez's no-hitter ::

"Anybody that's connected to him from here is happy for him," Hurdle said. "He poured into our program here. He had to cut his teeth, and it was a struggle initially. But he stayed steadfast with the plan that he and Ray put together, and it paid off huge dividends for him and for us while he was here."

Volquez is lined up to start Thursday against the Pirates at PNC Park. Only one pitcher in Major League history, Johnny Vander Meer, has put together consecutive no-hitters.

On Saturday night, Albert Pujols hit his 600th career home run, a grand slam. The moment resonated with David Freese, a longtime teammate of Pujols' with the Cardinals and Angels.

"One of the most deserving guys on the planet," Freese said. "When I think of Albert, I truly think of one of the most focused hitters I've ever been around or seen. He's the definition of not giving up an at-bat. Statistically, it shows. Just a great guy."

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Tyler Glasnow, Chad Kuhl