Pittsburgh Pirates Fifth Starter Power Rankings


The battle for a spot in the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation moved another week closer to reality.   We take a look at the most significant battle for a rotation spot in years.

Or since  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.

Unlike past years, the battle for the fifth spot in the 2013 rotation is between several interesting candidates.  The leaders are all young and full of promising upside.

Pittsburgh Pirates Fifth Starter Power Rankings

Here is this week’s rankings:

1. Kyle McPherson was squeezed against the Astros and try and ignore that pitching line.  McFear did nothing but get outs against the Minnesota Twins and did more of the same against the Houston Astros.   Some swing and miss, the righty froze a few batters inside and missed several times according to the home plate ump.  The big factor for us is nothing has been mentioned regarding his health.  An effortless,, expressionless, seemingly bullet proof Kyle McPherson is a happy thought.

2. Jeff Locke dropped to number two after a borderline unhittable first start against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Clint Hurdle’s favorite lefty had a tough go of it against the Red Sox.  Swings-and-misses with his fastball are the deciding factor, and that first inning against the Sox was rather miserable.  We love the three strikeouts, but the two walks knocked Locke from his perch.

3. Gerrit Cole is not a fifth starter. The big right hander pitched very well in the Black ‘n Gold scrimmage, but in his two innings against the Rays showed some vunerable areas.  Cole hides the ball well and has no trouble blowing away hitters, but the finesse still needs work.  Kicking the dirt in obvious frustration showed the competitive spirit we all love, but also the lack of experience.

Two innings against the Rays and the line wasn’t exactly what we were looking for, but there is some explanation.  A walk to Desmond Jennings and a blink of an eye later–Jennings was standing on third base.  After a Molina flick of the wrists single, Cole had allowed his lone run and hit of the 2013 spring.  The kid still needs work, but damn he’s fun to watch.

***Right now, it’s hard, really hard to not include Jameson Taillon right here, but he’s playing for Team Canada.  So that’s not happening.

4. Phil Irwin had a 1, 2, 3 inning against the Twins and looked nasty at times against some Sox prospects.  Philthy Phil has jumped to number four on the power rankings despite allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk over his two innings against Boston Friday.

5. Vin Mazzaro popped the glove in his outing against Tampa and again this week.  We can’t believe it, but Mazzaro might be one of the sleepers in this camp.  The right hander will have to prove it against some of the more talented hitters, but right now he’s having a bit of a camp.

6. Jonathan Sanchez being at number six should quelch all that talk about pitching depth.  The southpaw has showed some pop on his fastball. But damn, the lefty was he awful this week.

7. Kris Johnson was unbelievable in winter ball. Spring Training has brought him back to earth.

8. Andy Oliver needs work.

9. Jeff Karstens should probably not be on this list. But anytime we can include the Zombie…we do so. We think he could land the fourth starter spot, but he’s been very slow to get into action.

10. Francisco Liriano has been throwing as he recovers from a broken right arm.

11 . Charlie Morton is recovering from Tommy John. Electric Stuff is also training and might throw off a mound in the near future.

12. Jeanmar Gomez got roughed up again, he’s just entirely to hittable.  Maybe focus on the knuckler?