Pittsburgh Pirates: The Rotation is not being Improved

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates recently announced the signing of a veteran pitcher.  It appears that the team will use him as a starter.

Early Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates officially announced the signing of veteran pitcher Vince Velasquez.  Velasquez originally was a part of the Houston Astros Organization and appeared to have a lot of upside on the mound.  In fact, in 2015 Velasquez was rated as a top 5 prospect in the Astros system.

However, things never really worked out for Velasquez.  He went to Philly in a blockbuster that had multiple players going both directions.  Houston dealt away Velasquez, former Pittsburgh Pirates draft pick Mark Appel, and more for closer Ken Giles and a prospect.

The Phillies kept Velasquez around for 6 years before cutting ties with him.  He had made 116 starts and 16 relief appearances over those years.  He did not have a lot of success.  His career earned run average with the Phillies was 4.93.

He was released toward the end of the 2021 season.  He was picked up by the San Diego Padres and made 4 starts for them down the stretch.  His earned run average was almost 9 in those starts.  This past season he pitched for the Chicago White Sox.  He made 27 appearances including 9 starts.  Again his ERA was high at 4.87, but that was between starting and relieving.  His ERA as a reliever was a little more respectable at 4.35.

The issue in this statement is that Ben Cherington announced that Velasquez would be given a good shot at being a part of the rotation.  Meanwhile, Vince Velasquez has not had an earned run average under 4.5 since 2017.  As a reliever sure, get a veteran in the bullpen trying to get some stability after a tough 2022 season for the Buccs’ relievers.

However, we were told this team wanted to upgrade their starting rotation.  Early rumors connected the Pittsburgh Pirates to established starters who were cost-efficient like Kyle Gibson or Jose Quintana.  The issue is cost-efficient does not mean the same thing to the Pittsburgh Pirates Front Office and Owner.  Gibson would sign for $10 million over 1 year, and Quintana will get $13 million over the next two years.

The Front Office also said they would consider multi-year deals.  Then logical free agent target Sean Manaea was signed for $25 million over 2 years by the Giants.  That is $12.5 million a year, something that should not be considered too pricey for the Bucs.

The Pittsburgh Pirates could have easily afforded both these salaries.  Instead, Vince Velasquez is supposed to be their version of a cost-efficient inning eater. These are not the same scenarios, Velasquez has never really established himself while the other two were at the top of other team’s rotations at one point.

The only innings Velasquez is eating are the innings needed to keep breakout prospect, Luis Ortiz, in the minors until Super-2 has passed.  Hence, not putting out their best rotation possible. to start 2023. So how can fans feel like they are actually trying to compete?

Next. Asking Bob Nutting to Sell the Team. dark

The Bucs are continuing to dumpster dive.  They are not spending real money on legitimate players who can make an impact.  We have to hope that Velasquez figures something out, instead of just signing a proven starter.  If the Bucs bring in Kyle Gibson, Jose Quintana, or even Sean Manaea, well there is reason for more optimism.  Right now it just seems like the same old Pittsburgh Pirates, fielding a team with as limited as a budget possible.