All eyes are on the Pirates pitching staff...

Pirates Starting Pitching: How Good For How Long?

by Joe

The Pirates have been at or close to .500 since the 2011 season began.  There is nothing abnormal about that as they have played near .500 as late as mid-June several seasons over the last decade.  What seems different this season is that the starting pitching has been much better than many expected.     Six starters have a combined ERA of 3.96.  That raises the question of whether we can expect the good starting pitching to continue.  Let’s look at the six starters.

Ross Ohlendorf-The Wildcard

Ohlendorf has only pitched eight innings this season and there is no timetable on when he might return and no clue how he will pitch.  What we do know is the past two seasons he had ERAs of 3.92 and 4.07.  If he returns and pitches well he should not inflate the starting pitchers ERA.

Jeff Karstens-The Fifth Starter

Karstens has floated between the pen and the rotation the past two years putting up ERAs of 5.42 and 4.92.  His ERA this season is 3.62 so he is pitching better than his career average. However, some of his innings have been in relief.  As a starter this season his ERA is in line with his career ERA.  He is likely to continue to pitch at his current level and will probably be replaced in the rotation when Ohlendorf returns.

Charlie Morton-The Reclamation Project

Morton is rolling along at 4-1 with a 3.13 ERA, much better than his past record. All accounts say he is pitching better than in the past with a new arm slot.  He is pitching at a level many expected in the past.    His ERA may go up some but there is no reason to expect him to collapse.

James McDonald-The Trade Acquisition

McDonald has the highest ERA among the starters at 5.65.  He started the season late due to injury and he started poorly.   His last 3 starts have been excellent, giving up 2 runs in 18 innings.  There is reason to think his ERA will improve.   Last season he had an ERA of 4.02 overall and 3.52 in 11 starts with the Pirates.

Paul Maholm-The Veteran

Maholm has an ERA of 3.68, not out line with what he is capable of as he had a 3.71 ERA in 2008.  At age 29 Maholm is in his prime and pitched 176 or more innings every season from 2006 through 2010.  It would not be a shock if he continues to have a solid ERA.

Kevin Correia-The Free Agent

Correia is 5-2 with an ERA of 2.92.  His ERA is much lower than any he has had in the past but he had ERAs below 4 several times.  Based on the past the expectation would be that his ERA will go up, but not balloon. 

Taken together, barring injury the starting pitching should continue to rank in the top half of the league.  It is not unusual for the Pirates to have a pitcher have a good season.  The difference so far this season is they have several starters pitching well.  It will be interesting to see how they perform over the next 34 games.

Tags: Charlie Morton James McDonald Jeff Karstens Kevin Correia Paul Maholm Pirates Blog Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh Pirates Blog Ross Ohlendorf

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