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Pirates option Nick Kingham to Indianapolis

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have optioned righthander Nick Kingham to Triple-A Indianapolis and outfielder Jose Osuna is expected to be promoted to the Pirates on Tuesday, in time for the team’s interleague game against the Chicago White Sox.

Kingham looked very much like a big leaguer in his brief two-start stint with the Pirates. The 26-year old righty went 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA, striking out 16 batters over 12.1 IP. Of course, Kingham’s major league debut on April 29th, where he sat down the first 20 batters that he faced, is one of the best first starts in league history.

While it may seem strange to send down a young starter who is performing well, it’s largely circumstantial. Due to how the schedule is laid out, the Pirates won’t need a fifth starter for the next 12 days. And because they are playing in the American League at Guaranteed Rate Field for the next two days, they could use Osuna, who is sporting a stellar 1.037 OPS in Triple-A, as an extra bat in the lineup.

With Joe Musgrove scheduled to make a four-inning rehab start in Altoona today, it will be interesting to see what the Pirates decide to do with their rotation. Musgrove, being the biggest name in the Gerrit Cole trade, is certainly going to get an opportunity to start. And Chad Kuhl, the perceived weak link in the rotation, just threw his best game as a big leaguer on Sunday. That could leave Kingham as the odd man out, despite how well he has pitched so far in 2018.

If Musgrove isn’t ready to go by May 19th, the next time the Pirates will need their fifth starter, don’t be surprised to see Kingham back on the mound again.