In the last couple of weeks, Cole has won all of his first three major league starts, the most recent being a dominant effort against the Angels during which he topped 100 mph a half-dozen times.
Still, Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said on his radio show Sunday that the rookie sensation could find himself down at Class AAA Indianapolis once starting pitchers A.J. Burnett (calf) and Wandy Rodriguez (forearm) return from the disabled list.
Obviously, such a decision would have nothing to do with Cole's performance thus far. Rather, Huntington said, the move would make “smart business sense” in that it would keep all six of the team's potential starting pitchers in the organization.
The only other move that would do so would require sending Jeff Locke to the minors, which won't happen since the left-hander is leading the National League with a 2.01 ERA. The other four pitchers don't have any minor league options remaining, which would leave Cole (3.44 ERA) the odd man out.
Cole is scheduled to start Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Rodriguez could be back in the rotation the next day, while Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said last week that Burnett still "has been nowhere near a mound" during his recovery.