Pittsburgh Pirates: Remaining Free Agent Starting Pitcher
Editorial: The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a relatively quiet off-season. However, they still could use another starting pitcher.
With Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Ivan Nova as locks for the 2017 rotation, and Chad Kuhl likely in it as well, the Bucs could still use another starter. Yes, they have plenty of internal options in prospects like Tyler Glasnow, Trevor Williams, and Steven Brault, but they could use a more proven veteran. There are still a decent amount of starters available on the free agent market, and with Spring Training, specifically pitchers and catchers reporting in eight days, these starters should be signing very soon. Here are the remaining starters that the Bucs could look to, and their STEAMER projections for 2017:
Doug Fister pitched all of 2016 with the Houston Astros. The big righty is known as a ground ball pitcher. Fister is projected to throw 163 innings across 28 starts in 2017. In those starts, he is projected to pitch to a 4.52 earned run average, to go along with 4.53 FIP. Once again, STEAMER expects Fister to pitch to a solid ground ball rate of 47 percent, but strikeout just under six batters per nine innings.
Jason Hammel pitched all of 2016 with the Chicago Cubs. The righty is known as a fly ball pitcher, which does not fit the Pittsburgh Pirates mold. However, early on in his career, he did post ground ball rates in the higher 40s. If there is one thing to say about Hammel, it is that he is likely the most consistent pitcher left on the market. Hammel is projected to throw 158 innings across 30 starts in 2017. In those starts, he is projected to pitch to a 4.35 earned run average and a 4.31 FIP. STEAMER expects Hammel to add a 1.7 WAR next season. There are concerns about Hammel’s health, however, as he had elbow tightness toward the end of 2016.
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Jorge De la Rosa
Jorge De la Rosa has pitched for the Colorado Rockies since 2008. The deceptive lefty has been Colorado’s most consistent pitcher over the last decade, and he should earn a tip of the cap for being able to last that long there. De la Rosa is projected to throw 145 innings in 26 starts for the 2017 season. In those starts, he is projected to pitch to a 4.45 earned run average, with a 4.55 FIP. STEAMER predicts De la Rosa to pitch to a 47.7 percent ground ball rate, something that could interest the Bucs. he Bucs also are lacking a lefty in their rotation, De la Rosa could give them a proven one.
Jake Peavy pitched all of 2016 with the San Francisco Giants. The righty is known for his dominant years with the San Diego Padres. Peavy is projected to throw just 46 innings in just 8 starts in 2017. In those starts, he is projected to pitch to a 4.67 earned run average, with a FIP of 4.71. Peavy is about to turn 36 years of age. He has battled injuries his whole career, and is likely running out of gas. With that, he could help get the Bucs through April, and allow Tyler Glasnow to fine tune some things in Triple-A before coming back up for the long haul.
Colby Lewis pitched all of 2016 with the Texas Rangers. The righty is known for being a part of the Texas Ranger’s playoff runs a few years back. Lewis is projected to throw 171 innings across 28 starts in 2017. In those starts, he is projected to pitch to a 4.83 earned run average, along with a 4.80 FIP. His STEAMER projections are nothing to get excited about here, as Lewis would be a similar add as Peavy, a veteran to eat up innings until the younger guys are ready to go. He likely will end up back in Texas.
Other Names of Note: Henderson Alvarez, Jered Weaver, Mat Latos, Travis Wood (although viewed more as a reliever).
None of these targets are slam dunk signings. However, they are proven veterans who could be brought in on cheap, one-year contracts. Furthermore, they could represent good bounce back candidates. They could benefit from a coaching staff that has turned plenty of one-year contracts into multiyear. Meanwhile, this will allow the Bucs to let their young pitchers continue to develop in Triple-A to start the season. Also, the Bucs have yet to complete a trade for a starter like many thought they would. With that, it could be they have an offer on some of the pitchers listed and are waiting on their final decision.
Also, all stats from Fangraphs and STEAMER