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
Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates / Christopher Pasatieri/GettyImages
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Luis Ortiz

Luis Ortiz has looked great so far this season. The former top prospect has mostly worked out of a long relief role, but over the last month, the Pirates have been building up his workload. They've been doing so mainly out of necessity, but it's opened the door for a potential return to the starting rotation. This time, he merits an extended look.

Ortiz has tossed 53 innings so far in 22 games, including one start, which was his most recent outing. Ortiz has a 3.23 ERA, 3.52 FIP, and 1.23 WHIP during that time. He's been good at limiting walks (with an 8.1% BB%) and home runs (clocking in with a 0.51 HR/9). But Ortiz has not struck out many batters. He has a sub-20% K% at 19.3%. However, even though he's been asked to pitch more and more innings at a time in June, his numbers have only gotten better.

Ortiz has a 3.22 ERA, 3.02 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP in June. He's been next to allergic to walks with a 2.2% walk rate. So far, that's the fourth-lowest BB% among any pitcher with at least 20 frames tossed this month. Ortiz is also nearing the league average with a 21.4% K% during June. He's also been good at limiting homers with an 0.81 HR/9 and 47.8% ground ball rate. It's not like this is him getting lucky in a small sample size, either. He has a 3.28 xFIP and 3.13 SIERA.

Although Ortiz isn't throwing 98-100 MPH four-seamers and sinkers like he was in 2022, he is throwing with more movement. His sinker has gained three inches of drop, while his slider has seen a two-inch increase in horizontal break. It's not like he's a soft-tosser, either. His sinker and fastball still sit 95-96 MPH and are in the 75th percentile of velocity. With better command, it makes sense why he's been so effective this year.

Ortiz has finally looked like that promising pitcher we saw in 2022. He's been dominant in June, and with how they've been building up his workload, it could easily be sooner rather than later that we see him start getting the ball more regularly to start games.