Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2015 starting rotation: four things to know

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Sep 22, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

They need to improve in a few critical areas.

Some would say that the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2014 starting rotation was average at best.  For all of the ground ball rates, lack of home runs surrendered, and more, one can easily look to middling numbers in other factors to build up their case for the Bucs to be saddled with the average label.  Here are some interesting stats from 2014:

Total 3.60 0.249 2 971 2.39 7.4
Rank 10 10 25 12 24 30

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A look at these stats and their corresponding ranks show that the Pirates may have some work to do before one can consider their rotation to be elite.  Most troubling out of all of these is the total amount of innings pitched by a Pittsburgh Pirates starter.  While the Pirates do have an extremely reliable bullpen that

Clint Hurdle

is not hesitant to use, the effect of the starters going longer into their starts can limit any potential weakness in the front end of the bullpen, where most of the questions lie with names such as

Radhames Liz


Arquimedes Caminero

who still have to prove that they can be a reliable shark in the tank.  Creating a strong bridge to the rock-solid backend of

Tony Watson


Mark Melancon

could be crucial to the Pirates picking up those extra four or five wins that might just decide the NL Central.

Although I listed it here, the strike-to-walkout ratio that the Pirates’ starters put up in 2014 isn’t too alarming to me.  For all of the reasons listed above, this number is made a little less damning by virtue of the Bucs’ ability to get ground ball outs.  However, I expect this number to improve substantially as Cole matures and Burnett returns to the fold.

The Wins-Above-Replacement value for the Pirates’ staff was a cumulative 7.4, good enough for dead last in the majors.  Worley’s 2.1 and Volquez’ 2.5 led the way, followed by a few negative ratings from others.  Cole’s WAR for 2014 was a 1.2.  A healthy and productive 2015, along with a more varied arsenal of pitches, should help see that value increase.

It’s highly exciting to see that even with some great strides in the past two years, the starting rotation as a unit can see considerable improvement in 2015.  I firmly believe that the 2015 version of the Pittsburgh Pirates will go only as far as their pitching will take them.  Keeping that in mind, I haven’t been this excited about a Bucco rotation as I am with this one.  Each hurler brings something a bit different to the table, all unified by a singular philosophy put in place by a front office and coaching staff that is quickly leaving its mark on the game.

(Please visit the link below to learn more about the best pitch for each Pirates starter)

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