Pittsburgh Pirates: Internal Starting Pitching Options for 2023

Oct 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller (23) delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller (23) delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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CINCINNATI, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 13: Cal Mitchell #31 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a home run in the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds during game one of a doubleheader at Great American Ball Park on September 13, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 13: Cal Mitchell #31 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a home run in the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds during game one of a doubleheader at Great American Ball Park on September 13, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Depth Pieces

The Pittsburgh Pirates have some depth arms who could be called upon in the event there are some injuries or they need a last-minute spot starter. One is Trey McGough, who may have seen the major leagues this year had it not been for injuries. McGough is a soft-tossing southpaw, and while he might consistently post a sub-20% strikeout rate, he has excellent command. While he only pitched 17.2 total frames, McGough allowed one or fewer earned runs in seven of his eight outings. While he allowed three home runs and six total earned runs, all the home runs and five earned runs came in one start.

McGough might be the Pirates’ best depth option. Honestly, he should be in the running for a bullpen spot next year if he is back to full health and the Pirates still need another lefty on the roster. McGough isn’t the only depth lefty worth mentioning. Omar Cruz struggled at Double-A last season but was injured for part of the year.

Overall, he tossed 62.2 innings, pitching to the tune of a 5.03 ERA, 4.90 FIP, and 1.42 WHIP. Cruz had a workable 24.3% strikeout rate and 9.9% walk rate, but he allowed nine home runs, leading to a 1.29 HR/9 rate. Like McGough, Cruz is a soft tosser, only averaging out at 88-91 MPH. But he does have the positive of a change-up that projects to be plus-plus.

A few other names could be on the Pittsburgh Pirates in case of emergency-break glass list. Aaron Shortridge, Osvaldo Bido, and Zach Matson are definitely last-resort arms. Chances are, this trio will not even see the major leagues. The only way they do see the majors is if the Pirates are playing a team close to their affiliate, or if the Pirates have a dozen injuries. Still, this is a level of depth the Pirates do have in the event of a roster emergency.

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