5 pitchers who could be in the Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation by end of year

The Pirates have multiple starting pitchers who could find themselves as part of their rotation by the end of the 2024 season.
Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates
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The Pittsburgh Pirates' starting rotation has easily been the team's strongest suit this year. Paul Skenes, Jared Jones, and Mitch Keller have been a formidable trio, and arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball. Bailey Falter has been better than anyone expected him to be. While injuries have made the fifth spot of the rotation a bit more shaky, with the Pirates rotating starters in and out and utilizing bullpen games, there's no doubt the Pirates' rotation is one of the better ones in baseball.

With Martín Pérez struggling badly in his most recent outing (and the fact he is a rental), it's not out of the realm of possibility the Pirates push him to the bullpen, especially with some of the talent on the 40-man roster. They have a lot of arms in place who have a very real chance of ending up as starters for the Pirates by the end of this season, let alone by the All-Star break.

5 Pirates who could end up in the starting rotation later this year

Braxton Ashcraft

Braxton Ashcraft could join the Pirates' rotation right now if they wanted. He's on the 40-man roster, is already 24, was recently promoted to Triple-A, and has continued his outstanding season after being elevated. There's an outside chance Ashcraft makes his debut before the All-Star break. He could be a huge addition to the Pirates' rotation down the line.

So far this year, Ashcraft has thrown 69 innings between Altoona and Indy, working to a 3.00 ERA, 3.06 FIP, and 1.07 WHIP. He has a quality 25.8% strikeout rate and 0.78 HR/9 but has been one of the best pitchers at limiting walks. He has a 4.3% walk rate, which is the 14th lowest among any minor-league arm who has started at least ten games.

Ashcraft regularly sits 94-96 MPH with his fastball and can carry above-average velo late into games. Both his slider and curveball are above average pitches. He'll also mix in a changeup from time to time. Over the last two years, his command has gotten better and better, with walks almost never being a problem. He's had just one outing since the start of 2023 where he's allowed at least three walks, and has never allowed four in a game.

The question that remains is whether the Pirates will use Ashcraft as a starter or reliever when they call him up. There's no doubt in my mind that they view him as a long-term starting pitcher, but he's already reached a career high in innings pitched as a pro pitcher. May of this year represented the first time he pitched at least six innings in a game since 2019. Regardless, there's still a chance he will see some starts in the major leagues in the second half of the season.