In years past, the Pittsburgh Pirates have normally held a competition for the fifth starters spot in their rotation. Names like Scott Olsen, Brad Lincoln, and Kevin Hart were in the mix. The job was won by the likes of Jeff Karstens in 2009 and Daniel McCutchen in 2010.
The battle for the fifth spot in the 2013 rotation is wide open. We listed all the possible suspects below as we attempt to gauge just who might get the job.
1. Jeff Locke was borderline unhittable in his first start this spring against the Tampa Bay Rays. A favorite of Clint Hurdle. Swings-and-misses with his fastball are the deciding factor in his top of the chart ranking.
2. Kyle McPherson did nothing but get outs against the Minnesota Twins. A few hard hit balls by the Twins put him at the number two spot. McFear appeared to throw effortlessly in Fort Myers, easing fears about his health.
3. Gerrit Cole is not a fifth starter. The big right hander pitched very well in the Black ‘n Gold scrimmage. Clint Hurdle hinted that we would see the right hander again in Grapefruit League play. A longshot to head North with the club, just don’t tell him that news.
4. Jonathan Sanchez showed some pop on his fastball. Good curve. Sanchez hit a batter, just missed another, and threw just enough balls in the dirt to make us remember why he was available.
5. Phil Irwin had a 1, 2, 3 inning against the Twins jumping in at number five on the power rankings.
6. Kris Johnson was unbelievable in winter ball. Spring Training has brought him back to earth.
7. Vin Mazzaro popped the glove in his outing against Tampa.
8. Andy Oliver has been seen throwing at Pirates City.
9. Jeff Karstens should probably not be on this list. But anytime we can include the Zombie…we do so. We think he should be the fourth starter, but he’s been experiencing pain in his right arm so we grouped him with the other guys in the tub.
10. Francisco Liriano has been throwing as he recovers from a broken right arm.
12. Jeanmar Gomez got roughed up against the Twins. The right hander didn’t impress as he was just very hittable.