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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Bubba Chandler

Bubba Chandler is easily the boldest call here. However, he's arguably the most talented pitcher in the Pirates' system. He was ranked ahead of Jared Jones heading into this season, and with the way he's been tossing the ball lately, he could easily get bumped to Triple-A within the next few weeks.

Chandler has followed up his promising 2023 campaign with another extremely encouraging start to the year. He's tossed 54 innings thus far with a 4.17 ERA, but has maintained a more impressive 3.49 FIP and 1.15 WHIP. Batters have trouble making contact off of Chandler. He's striking them out 30.4% of the time while holding them to a .200 batting average. He hasn't allowed many home runs either, with an 0.83 HR/9. Preventing walks has been his weakest skill, but he still carries a respectable 9.8% BB%.

But since the start of June, Chandler has been scorching hot. He has pitched 25.1 innings, pitching to a 2.49 ERA, 1.69 FIP, and 0.87 WHIP. Chandler has struck out over a third of opponents with a 34.7% strikeout rate, but here's the real kicker: he has walked a microscopic 3% of batters faced. The most walks he's dished out during any of his outings in June is one. Chandler has allowed just a single homer while holding opponents to a batting average just below the Mendoza line at .196.

Chandler is still just 21, but he's regularly hitting the upper 90s, even topping out at triple-digits with his fastball. His slider is an easy plus pitch and his changeup has improved since he was taken in the third round of the 2021 draft. He'll also mix in a curveball from time to time, and while it's a usable offering, it's easily his worst pitch. The command has come a long way as well, and he's been using the athleticism he had at shortstop on the mound to repeat his delivery.

It's a little bold to say that Chandler will be in the starting rotation by the end of the year, but I think there's a chance. He just keeps getting better and better, and before long, the Pirates won't have any choice but to give him some starts at the big-league level with his current trajectory.