What Should The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Rotation Be Moving Forward?

Jun 29, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 29, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have just 13 games remaining in their 2016 season. Which leads to the question, what should the starting rotation be the next two weeks?

To say the 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates have been a disappointment is an understatement. Many people, myself included, expected the Pirates to compete for a fourth consecutive postseason berth this season. However, with 13 games remaining in the season the Pirates find themselves with a 74-75 record.

Even though the Pirates are not mathematically eliminated from the National League postseason picture, they are not going to make the postseason. Due to this the Pittsburgh Pirates need to start looking ahead to 2017. And big part of looking ahead to 2017 involves the starting rotation.

13 games equals two and a half turns through the starting rotation. Therefore, the Pirates have an opportunity to get some pitchers three more starts this season and some two. So, who should be starting games the next two weeks?

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On Tuesday night the Pirates will begin a three game series in Milwaukee against the Brewers. Right-handed pitcher Chad Kuhl will get the ball for the Pirates on Tuesday night. So far, 2016 has been a strong rookie campaign for Kuhl.

In 56 2/3 innings pitched Kuhl owns a 3.97 ERA, 4.15 FIP, and a 1.20 WHIP. He is averaging 6.19 K/9, 2.54 BB/9, 0.95 HR/9., and he has a 47.1 percent ground ball rate. Kuhl has earned the right to be making starts in the next two weeks and will be a big part of the Pirates’ 2017 rotation. Therefore, I would like to see Kuhl make three starts in the next 13 games.

Clint Hurdle has not yet announced the Pirates’ rotation for the rest of their series against the Brewers. However, odds are, Wednesday night will be either Ryan Vogelsong or Steven Brault. This is due to the fact that they will be the only pitchers who would not be forced to start on short rest.

If it were up to me neither of these pitchers would start another game for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. Ryan Vogelsong is 39 years old, he is going to be a free agent, and he will not be a member of the 2017 Pirates. Furthermore, Vogelsong’s past five starts have been terrible.

In his past five starts Ryan Vogelsong has pitched just 23 innings. In these 23 innings he has allowed 30 hits, four home runs, he has walked 13 batters, and he has struck out just 15. This has led to Vogelsong posting an 8.61 ERA, 6.05 FIP, and 5.98 xFIP. So, yeah, there’s no need for Vogelsong to make anymore starts.

As for Steven Brault, he has been extremely unimpressive through his first six Major League starts. In these six starts he has pitched 27 2/3 innings and has allowed an alarming 34 hits, to go along with 12 walks and three home runs. Opposing batters are hitting .301 off of Brault, and he’s allowed a 78.7 percent contact rate which is far too high.

While I do not think Steven Brault has a future as a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues, mostly due to the fact he does not have three Major League quality pitches, he may have a future as a left-handed reliever. Unlike Ryan Vogelsong, Brault might be able to help the Pirates down the road. Therefore, I would rather see him start than Vogelsong.

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After having Steven Brault start on Wednesday night I would remove him from the Pirate rotation. For the remainder of the season I would have Brualt pitch out of the Pirates’ bullpen. This takes us to Thursday night when I would give the ball to Jameson Taillon.

Jameson Taillon has had a remarkable rookie campaign. The young Pirates’ right-handed pitcher is well on his way to becoming one of the best starting pitchers in the National League. So, obviously, I would like to see him make more starts before the end of the season.

After Jameson Taillon, I want to see Trevor Williams, Ivan Nova, and Tyler Glasnow make starts as well. While Trevor Williams’ first career start on Saturday did not go well I still believe he can be a good Major League starting pitcher. And Tyler Glasnow is one of the top prospects in all of baseball for a reason.

So moving forward this is the series-by-series starting rotation I would like to see the Pirates deploy.

Against Milwaukee:
Game 1 – Chad Kuhl
Game 2 – Steven Brault
Game 3 – Jameson Taillon

Against Washington:
Game 1 – Trevor Williams
Game 2 – Ivan Nova
Game 3 – Tyler Glasnow

Against Chicago:
Game 1 – Chad Kuhl
Game 2 – Jameson Taillon
Game 3 – Trevor Williams
Game 4 – Ivan Nova

Against St. Louis:
Game 1 – Tyler Glasnow
Game 2 – Chad Kuhl
Game 3 – Jameson Taillon

So, that is what I would do with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting rotation over the case of the 2016 season’s final 13 games. This is the rotation set up which, in my opinion, best helps the Pirates prepare for 2017. What say you?