Pittsburgh Pirates: Free Agent Starting Pitchers Still Available
By Noah Wright
Aging But Still Effective
The oldest player on the free agent market this year is southpaw Rich Hill. At 42 years old, you’d think Hill would be ready to hang up the cleats, or his performance would force him to. However, he has hung in there and was a solid back-of-the-rotation starter for the Red Sox last year. In 124.1 innings, Hill worked to a 4.27 ERA, 3.92 FIP, and 1.30 WHIP. Hill had an unimpressive 20.7% strikeout rate, but quality 7.8% walk rate and workable 1.09 HR/9. Hill turns 43 in March, which would make him the oldest active pitcher to play Major League Baseball since Bartolo Colon in 2018 at a youthful 45.
Former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber had a decent bounce-back campaign at 36 with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 164 innings, Kluber worked to a 4.34 ERA but 3.57 FIP and 1.21 WHIP. Kluber led Major League pitchers with a 3% walk rate, which is by far the best of his career. Though this also came with a 20.2% strikeout rate and 1.1 HR/9. Despite now averaging out below 90 MPH, Kluber has seemingly adapted and has still been effective. His ERA might not have been too pretty, but he had two clunker starts, one on May 10th and the other on September 10th. Outside of those two outings, he pitched to a 3.65 ERA.
Last but certainly not least among the older veterans is Zack Greinke. The future potential Hall of Fame starter signed with his former long-time team, the Kansas City Royals, for the 2022 season and gave them the kind of production you’d expect from an old Greinke. The veteran worked to a 3.68 ERA, 4.03 FIP, and 1.34 WHIP. He had a 0.92 HR/9 (granted, he pitched in the cavernous Kauffman) and an outstanding 4.6% walk rate. But what was worrying was his 12.5% strikeout rate. While there are plenty of effective low strikeout pitchers, only four pitchers in the last decade have had an above-league-average ERA in 130+ IP and a sub-13% strikeout rate. Plus, at 39, there are more questions than concrete answers. However, there are far worse options than Greinke.