For former Greenbrier product Brandon Cumpton, getting the big league call he’s worked for his entire career has come at a historical time in Pittsburgh.
Cumpton was with the Pirates when they recorded their 82nd win on Sept. 9 at Texas, clinching Pittsburgh’s first winning season since 1992.
“It was pretty cool being a part of that,” he said. “It’s just a mile marker we got past. Each win is closer to what we want to accomplish.”
Cumpton was just 3 years old when the Pirates won the NL East and fell one Sid Bream slide short of a trip to the World Series in 1992. The Atlanta Braves won Game 7 of the NLCS and the Pirates haven’t returned to the playoffs since.
But the Pirates are in their best position to clinch a playoff berth since then, battling the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central and currently holding one of the Wild Card spots.
Cumpton is experiencing his first major league playoff run, but he made his debut back on June 15 when he allowed three runs in five innings to the Los Angeles Dodgers in front of family and friends in Pittsburgh.
“The first game was unbelievable,” he said. “It was something to take in and never forget. Once I got through the bullpen and was walking to the dugout, I took a couple minutes, took some breaths and took in the scenery.”
After another solid start against the Cincinnati Reds, Cumpton was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, but he made a spot start for the Pirates on July 2 and held the Philadelphia Phillies to three runs.
After four starts back in Triple-A, Cumpton made another spot start for Pittsburgh and put together his best start, throwing seven scoreless innings against a tough Cardinals team on July 30.
Cumpton said the back and forth traveling between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh didn’t affect him, as he treated it like another road trip.
The numbers agree. The right-hander, who was drafted in the ninth round in 2010 out of Georgia Tech, has a 3.32 ERA in 122 Triple-A innings, and a 2.78 ERA in 22 ⅔ major league innings.
“You just treat it as traveling to a different city, different game,” he said. “I try to pitch to my strengths. You just go out and hopefully come out ahead.”