I'm really starting to think Clint Hurdle (and his staff) may just be really smart, at least this year, with the way he's been handling his pitching staff, particularly the rotation. We all know that the Bucs have been able to spin straw from gold as it relates to the bullpen, but the way Hurdle has massaged the admittedly vulnerable arms of the rotation has been nothing short of a miracle in 2012.
1. Burnett. I don't think Hurdle actually should get too much credit for Burnett's comeback season, except to say that A.J. seems to genuinely thrive on playing for the guy, as well as the rest of the team. Bringing in Barajas to catch for him goes as a W for Huntington.
2. McDonald. Searage and Hurdle clearly have worked wonders with this guy, helping him find his out pitch and giving him the confidence he needed to work long into games. Again, Barajas is a factor here, but does anyone look like they're happier to play for Hurdle than Rod? Also, playing with the rotation and picking spots to rest guys seems to have worked with McDonald.
3. Karstens. As he did last year, Karstens continues to marvel. Extra rest and his particular spot in the order has led to success.
4. Rodriguez. Too soon to tell, but getting a guy who should work well with Barajas should point to an upgrade in his stats over the rest of the year, and he wasn't doing too shabby before.
5. Bedard. Here's where the magic has really paid off. Bedard has not been on the DL all year (knock on wood), even though certain games he has looked like it was the beginning of some physical failing that would lead to time off. Instead, Hurdle has rested him some, and with Correia around, that can continue through the season. I look to more amazing outings like yesterday's gem as long as Clint gives him sufficient rest.
6. Correia. He was Clint's guy back to the Rockies days, so moving out of the rotation has to hurt. But I maintain that having him around will be the key to the rotation surviving the toll of the long season. Along with manipulating days off, using six guys occasionally will keep guys like Bedard and McDonald fresh.
So, is Hurdle (or Searage or someone) brilliant? Or do these pitchers simply have the talent to be this good?