Pirates 5th Starter Options Trump Yankees


The Pittsburgh Pirates might have spoiled us with their success in 2013.   All of us want the Bucs to spend a little bit more money thinking that cash would solve problems.  I often think that, but then I look at the New York Yankees.  Don’t the Yankees have all the cash?  If so, then why does the fifth starter competition in New York look so, well…blah?

Don’t believe me?  Look at the competition that is unfolding for the number five starter job in the Bronx.

The nominees are:

Vidal Nuno

Is that a haircare product or a starting pitcher?  Nuno went from Washington Wild Things-esque independent ball league hurler to the Majors in less than two years.   The southpaw worked 20 innings over three starts and two relief appearances for the Evil Empire with ok results (2.25 ERA and 4.50FIP)

David Phelps

The most experienced big leaguer of the Yankees fifth starter candidates, the right hander goes today against the Bucs.   Phelps has all but been given a spot on the Yankees either as their fifth starter or a job in their bullpen.  Phelps is 27 and didn’t impress as a starter last year with a near 5 ERA in just over 65 innings pitched.

Michael Pineda

You’ve heard the name for a long time.  You haven’t heard about the results.  The Yankees have spent the better part of two seasons waiting for Pineda to get healthy.  Last year he pitched in three levels of the minors chalking up a whooping 40.2 innings.  Pineda doesn’t look like a long term starter option in 2014 even if he somehow did end up with the job.

So back to Pittsburgh.  Yeh, it sucks A.J. Burnett will make his debut as a Philadelphia Phillies starter on Sunday.  We’ve been done that road.  But the Pirates have other options and I like them more than the Yankees options which doesn’t seem possible does it?

I expect Jeff Locke to pitch well in 2014.   For God sakes he was an All-Star last season!    But seriously, Locke will pitch today in Tampa and I fully expect him to be ready to prove his Jekyll and Hyde 2013 is in his rear view mirror.

The depth is less proven, but still suitable fifth starters for me.  Jeanmar Gomez had a strong 2013 campaign and outshined all of the Yankees options and Gomez isn’t even sniffing a job in Pittsburgh.  He’s not sexy, he just gets the job done.   Gomez started eight games for the Bucs and the team was 8-0 in those starts.

Tom Singer wrote today that in relief, Gomez worked fewer than two innings 13 times and three or more five times, with eight other appearances in between.

"His bottom line was solid — 3-0, with a 3.35 ERA — but his contribution was even greater. Twice he gutted out punishing outings on zero days’ rest to give his winded bullpen mates a break, in those games allowing a total nine earned runs in two-thirds of an inning.Cross out those two outings, and his true value becomes 2.36-ERA work in the other 32 games.“He really simplified things. He went from a starter throwing five pitches to a reliever basically working with three and executing them very well,” Hurdle said of Gomez, who had started 38 of his prior 40 big league appearances with the 2010-12 Indians. “He kept the ball down, then the slider came into play, and that combination of spin and hitting the bottom of the zone was a really big step for him. That wasn’t the M.O. when he was in the American League starting.”"

Brandon Cumpton has pitched well as a big league starter albeit in a very short period.  The 25-year old pitched 30.2 innings to a tune of a 173 ERA+.  Stolmy Pimentel could be a starter if needed.  Phil Irwin is coming back from surgery and has made strong indications he is fully healthy.   Kyle McPherson is on the comeback trail and should not be relied upon until much later in the year.

And just consider this, Jameson Taillon waits in the wings should the multitude of other Pirates options not work out.   Not a bad trump card if all else fails.  If you were to take the time to calculate the acquisition cost of these starting pitching options for the Bucs, we believe you’d be shocked to see just how small the investment was.  What the Bucs have done a good job in the past few years is development.  These pitchers have bought into the Pirates way of doing things and it’s paying dividends now, and will continue to do so into the future.

The Yankees are a sight to behold, we give them the utmost respect for always trying to do whatever it takes to put a winner on the field.  The Pirates are also earning our respect with their ability to put together a pitching staff on a dumpster diving budget.