Pittsburgh Pirates: Quick Thoughts on Fifth Rotation Spot

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Editorial: As Spring Training gets in full swing, there is one key battle in the Pittsburgh Pirates camp to pay attention to.  Of course, this is the fifth starting spot.

With the Pittsburgh Pirates officially being in camp since last Friday, many talks have been around who will be the last starter in the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation.  So far, it is a lock that Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Ivan Nova will make up the front end of the rotation.  Also, barring any injuries or really poor performance this spring, it is probably safe to say that Chad Kuhl will be the Pittsburgh Pirates fourth starter.  The fifth starting spot remains up for grabs.

Former Blue Jay

As of now, Drew Hutchison would seem to be the front-runner.  He has the most big league experience, and is being paid a decent salary compared to the other options.  Also, keep in mind that Hutchison was part of a very controversial trade last summer. The Pirates may feel obligated to give him a chance to prove his worth.

Top Prospect

Outside of Hutchison remains a lot of young prospects.  The obvious name that is being considered is top pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow.  However, as impressive as Glasnow may be this Spring, it seems the feeling around the Pirates is that he is destined to start in Triple-A.  If he does, it will mainly be for him to continue and develop his new change-up, a two-seam fastball, and in general perfect his mechanics.

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Other Prospects

After Glasnow comes Trevor Williams.  Williams was originally acquired last off-season off of the Miami Marlins.  Williams, a former second-round pick in 2013, had a very strong season in Triple-A last season.  He then came up and pitched in mostly long relief during the expanded roster period last September.  Chances are Williams is on the outside looking in.  Although between Glasnow and the next option to be mentioned, Williams is probably the most polished.  However, with limited upside, the Bucs would be better off going with Drew Hutchison and letting Williams serve as depth at Triple-A.

The final pitcher up for the fifth spot this Spring Training is left-hander Steven Brault.  Brault, who was originally acquired for Travis Snider, has been nothing but spectacular across his Pittsburgh Pirates minor league career.  With a lack of left handed starting pitching options, many would like to see Brault in the rotation.  However, many felt that Brault did not impress in his “try out” last season.  He showed a lack of command, a dip in his velocity, and in general, not being overly effective.  While it was only 33 innings, there was not much there to suggest he should have a step up on any of the other options at this point.  With that, Brault is gouting to be given the first shot to make an impression this Spring.  Brault will be starting this Saturday in the Pittsburgh Pirates first Grape Fruit League Game.  It is a split squad game.

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Final Thoughts

All in all, there really should be no real front runner for the fifth starting job.  No player is more impressive than the other, oupside perhaps Tyler Glasnow.  Obviously, Glasnow is in a different class in terms of potential impact, but also will be handled much more cautiously going forward.  The real battle is likely between three back-end of the rotation type starters in Hutchison, Williams, and Bault. Hutchison bring big league experience, Willaims brings youth and some polish for his age, and Brault could give the Bucs a lefty in the rotation.  This should no doubt be the number one story line to follow as the Grape Fruit League play gets underway.