Pittsburgh Pirates Must Address Starting Pitching During Offseason


Aug 20, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates made the National League playoffs for the second straight season, but if a third consecutive year is going to happen, the team will need to address the starting pitching during the offseason.

The Pirates have Gerrit Cole, Vance Worley (arbitration eligible) and Jeff Locke as the three lead candidates to front the staff, but with prospect Jameson Taillon and Charlie Morton both having injury concerns, the rest of the rotation remains a major question mark.

This means the Bucs need to do something in the trade market as an effort to bolster the staff. The Pirates do not need to acquire a major star to join the team, but a reliable hurler has to be obtained. Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez are options as free agents, but the amount of money both could demand may be too much for management to hand over. If that is the case, the front office will definitely have to look at cheap, but respectable pitchers. One option that could interest the team is bringing back Paul Maholm to the club. Maholm is definitely not a great addition, but he could offer stability and someone who could be shifted to the bullpen if the staff fills out.

Another option may be Justin Masterson. Masterson is just two years removed from a very solid 2013 season (14-10, 3.45 ERA) and could find new life in Pittsburgh where the demands and expectations will be subdued. Masterson could slip into the fourth spot in the rotation and become an innings eater that helps keep the bullpen fresh. It is not often a no. 4 pitcher actually can give more time off for relievers. Masterson should be a low-risk player because he will not cost the team that much cash.

The Pirates have been a nice story over the last two seasons, but the time is now to go after free agents and become serious World Series contenders in 2015.