Pittsburgh Pirates: Projecting the 2021 Starting Rotation

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 01: Jameson Taillon #50 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 01, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 01: Jameson Taillon #50 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 01, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
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Sep 17, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Steven Brault (43) pitches the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals to record a complete game at PNC Park. Pittsburgh won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 17, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Steven Brault (43) pitches the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals to record a complete game at PNC Park. Pittsburgh won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Likely In The Rotation

The only reason lefty Steven Brault was not listed as a long is due to trade rumors swirling around him. If he is with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021, then he will be in the starting rotation to start the season.

Brault is coming off a 2020 season in which he posted a career best 3.38 ERA and 3.92 FIP. Dating back to 2019, in his last 136.1 innings pitched with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Brault owns a 4.16 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 0.79 HR/9, 10.5% walk rate, and a 20.1% strikeout rate. While these numbers are not great, they are more than good enough for a mid-to-back of the rotation starting pitcher.

Another pitcher in this boat is Chad Kuhl. Unlike Brault, Kuhl has not been mentioned in trade rumors this offseason. That said, the righty will enter Spring Training with a likely spot in the rotation, but not one lokced up.

When the 2020 season kicked off in late July, Kuhl had not pitched in over two calendar years. While he struggled with control (14.1% walk rate) and the home run ball (1.55 HR/9), what was most important for Kuhl was just logging innings in 2020 which he was able to do. As he still possesses plus stuff, Kuhl seems like a safe bet, but not a lock, to start the 2021 season as a member of the Pirate starting rotation.

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