Five Things the Pittsburgh Pirates Need to Do in June

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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May 31, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller (23) delivers a pitch in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
May 31, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller (23) delivers a pitch in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Find a fifth starting pitcher

The Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation is starting to take shape. They currently have four reliable arms in the rotation. Roansy Contreras is a young right-hander with ace potential. JT Brubaker has a 3.12 ERA/3.57 FIP, a 24.7% strikeout rate, and a 0.89 HR/9 through his last 40.1 innings of work. José Quintana has been nothing short of outstanding. The low-cost/low-risk signing has a 2.32 ERA and 3.16 FIP this season. Zach Thompson has also started to find his groove. In his last 25.2 innings, the right-hander has a 2.45 ERA and 3.99 FIP.

But the fifth spot? Well, the last rotation spot is still very much up in the air.

The Pittsburgh Pirates opened the season with Mitch Keller in the starting rotation. However, he has recently transitioned into a multi-inning bullpen arm. Dillon Peters has been used both out of the bullpen as a typical multi-inning arm and a three-inning opener. Wil Crowe was used as an opener for two innings, but given how well he has pitched as a high-leverage reliever, he’s likely more valuable setting up David Bednar than being used at the start of the game.

Finding some stability in the last spot of the rotation would be a nice way to set a tempo for each week. The Pirates do have a couple of guys they could turn to. Cody Bolton has done well at Triple-A so far this year. Max Kranick could be in the mix for a rotation spot once he returns from the injured list. Trey McGough would give the Pirates a lefty starter to pair with Quintana among the starting five.

It’s not a rotation that will take the league by storm and make the playoffs, but a starting five of Contreras, Brubaker, Quintana, Thompson and Bolton/Kranick/McGough would be a very underrated group. Given that all but Q have control beyond 2023, it gives the Pirates a decent outlook on the future.