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Perrotto: All-Star Break Can’t Get Here Soon Enough for Pirates

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Pittsburgh Pirates, Bailey Falter

PITTSBURGH – The All-Star break is eight days away. It can’t get here so enough for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates are running out of starting pitchers with the season’s unofficial midpoint approaching. Yet another member of the rotation was injured Saturday.

Left-handed Bailey Falter was removed in the third inning because of left posterior arm discomfort during the Pirates’ 5-2 loss to the New York Mets at PNC Park. For those who do not have a medical dictionary handy, Falter has a sore pitching arm.

Falter’s injury came just three days after rookie right-hander Jared Jones strained his right lat in a start against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday. Jones was placed on the injured list the next morning, joining fellow starting pitchers Marco Gonzales and Quinn Priester.

Falter seemed to think his injury wasn’t serious,

“I’m not really concerned, honestly,” Falter said. “Coming in here (Sunday), we’ll re-evaluate and get some more news.”

Jones also thought his injury wasn’t serious. He landed on the IL. So, it stands to reason Falter could follow as soon as Sunday afternoon before the Pirates and Mets play the third game of their four-game series.

“Felt it mainly throughout most of the game but after the second going into the third, it was pretty tapped out,” Falter said of his arm. “I just obviously wanted to try to stay in the game for as much as possible, just to give the bullpen a little break. But I noticed a little discomfort in the warmup pitches in the third. Didn’t really throw too many strikes. It kind of flared up after that and I kind of just lost feel for it.”

Falter exited after walking J.D. Martinez as the Mets loaded the bases with none out in a scoreless game. Dennis Santana relieved and nearly escaped the jam by striking out Pete Alonso and Mark Vientos before backup catcher Luis Torrens belted a three-run double to the North Side Notch.

The Pirates never quite recovered from the 3-0 deficit, though Santana and fellow relievers Ryder Ryan and Josh Fleming combined to allow just two runs in seven innings.

The rest of the Pirates rotation consists of rookie Paul Skenes, Mitch Keller, left-hander Martin Perez and, presumably, Luis Ortiz.

The 6-foot-6 Skenes looks like a workhorse, but the Pirates aren’t going to push the 22-year-old phenom too hard in his first full professional season. Skenes has pitched a combined 86.2 innings between the majors and Triple-A Indianapolis.

Perez returned to the active roster just last weekend after missing a month with a strained left groin. Ortiz will be making his second start of the season Sunday as 22 of his 23 appearances have been as a reliever.

Keller has pitched a team-leading 103.1 innings and made all 17 starts. He is a rock.

Gonzales and Priester are both on rehab assignments at Indianapolis. That’s good news but the Pirates need help sooner if Falter needs to go on the IL.

“I think anytime you lose starters or multiple starters, and I’m not saying we’re losing Bailey, but when you have a situation where you lose starters, it tests your depth,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I mean we have what, 10 days before the (All-Star) break? So, we have to figure out what’s best for us, most importantly what’s best for the player and then what’s best for us.”

The Pirates are running out of options. Those four days off from July 15-18 can’t come here fast enough.

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