Posted on August 27, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine

Pittsburgh Pirates Gerrit Cole

Image via usatoday.com

Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole has been scratched from his next start because of a sore elbow. Cole was scheduled to start Monday against the Chicago Cubs; however, he will not make that start and instead will fly to Los Angeles to see a specialist, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The team does not believe that Cole’s elbow has any structural damage, instead believing that he may have a bone spur in his elbow. Nevertheless, he is being sent to see a shoulder and elbow specialist.

The Pirates have not confirmed the report; however, Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle declined to name his starting rotation for next week’s series against the Cubs when he met with the media Saturday. “It makes it interesting, doesn’t it?” Hurdle said when he was asked if there was an update on the team’s upcoming rotation.

Hurdle did not rule out Cole pitching against the Cubs next week. However, Cole told the media Saturday that he has not thrown a bullpen since he’s last start on Wednesday, which makes it unlikely for him to be ready to pitch on Monday.

Hurdle, however, said that it’s common for pitchers in Cole’s position to skip bullpen sessions this time of year. “Right now, we’re taking it one day at a time,” he said. “We continue to have communication with him.” Assuming Cole doesn’t pitch on Monday, Drew Hutchison and Steven Brault are the most likely options to come up from triple-A to start in his place.

Outside of a stint on the DL in July due to strained triceps, Cole has been Pittsburgh’s best starter this season. However, he has struggled as of late, losing his last three decisions and posting a 6.08 ERA during the month of August. Elbow trouble could help explain Cole’s recent struggles and problems with his command. But he’s refusing to use a possible injury as an excuse for his subpar performance.

“I’m always striving to get better,” Cole said. “I came out of the gate hot last year and was able to hit a stride. The goal then was to get better every set. It is the same mindset I have now. You have to turn the page. You have to stay in that grind, man. The results that come, the questions that come are not always easy to deal with. The game is hard. You have to stay focused.”

With rosters about to expand, it’s unlikely the Pirates will put Cole on the DL, but that doesn’t mean he will return to the rotation soon after skipping Monday’s start. Losing Cole for any amount of time would be detrimental to Pittsburgh’s playoff chances. The Pirates are one of four teams within 2.5 games of one another for the second wild card spot in the National League. Of course, the Pirates need the Cole they had earlier this season pitching for them down the stretch, making his reported visit with an elbow specialist Monday an important moment in Pittsburgh’s season.

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