Pirates Starting Pitching Will Carry Team


Sep 23, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates recent acquisition of the A.J. Burnett sort of came out of nowhere because Burnett took less money to leave the Philadelphia Phillies in returning to the Steel City. The Pirates seemed more like they would go after a lower rotation pitcher, but made a big move by obtaining Burnett and setting the rotation into an order that seems way more fitting than where it stood after the 2014 season.

Gerrit Cole has definitely morphed into a no. 1 starter who has ace-like stuff. Cole will begin 2015 as one of the more dominating starters in the National League Central. Cole has had a very strong start to his career with 41 total games, 21 wins and a 3.45 ERA. He looked better as 2014 went on and he finished the season with a 9.00 K/9 innings. Cole has overpowering stuff, but he also knows that strikeouts cause more wear-and-tear on his arm than getting a first-pitch out. Cole could be a 250-strikeout pitcher, but that may cause too much harm to his arm and with the recent surge of Tommy John surgeries, Cole does not want to be added to that list.

Burnett will likely take over as the no. 2 pitcher and with his leadership he will be a perfect fit for a team made up of a bunch of youngsters in need of any knowledge they can get. The rest of the rotation could easily be flipped around depending on how manager Clint Hurdle wants to set things up. There actually is no wrong way to place Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke and Vance Worley. It seems likely the three, four and five starters would stay with those three in the order of Locke, Worley and Morton. However, if an injury occurs, acquiring a long reliever/spot starter would be a good move this offseason.

Regardless, the Pirates — barring injuries — have a very desirable staff and with Ray Searage in charge of the arms, the starters are in good hands. The Pirates have an offense that can score runs and with Burnett back, the team’s strength could be starting pitching next season.