It's the end of year 4 for Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates still have almost zero starting pitching. There is one word to describe this situation - embarrassing.
Sunday afternoon, Colin Selby will work as an opener for the Pittsburgh Pirates. This will be the 5th time this season that Selby has worked as an opener. In the first 4, he's allowed 4 runs on a home run, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts in 6.0 innings pitched (6.00 ERA).
The struggles of Selby as an opener highlight the current state of the Pirate starting rotation. Right now, the state of the Pirate rotation can be summed up quickly and easily with one single word - embarrassing.
Mitch Keller and Johan Oviedo have become workhorses for the Pirates. These two have each amde 30 starts, can be counted on to take the ball every five days, and have combined for a 5.0 WAR. Other than Keller and Oviedo, the Pirates currently have no reliable starting pitching.
Luis Ortiz has returned to the starting rotation in recent weeks, but after getting hit hard and struggling with control on Saturday night he now owns a 4.85 ERA and a 5.75 FIP in 78 innings pitched this season. Quinn Priester is back in the majors as well but was used as a bulk man instead of a starter in his most recent outing. This did not help Priester as he allowed 4 runs in 4 innings pitched, giving him a 9.09 ERA and a 7.02 FIP on the season.
After making a strong first impression Andre Jackson has been regularly making starts for the Pirates, but he owns a 5.79 ERA and a 5.08 FIP in his last 6 outings. The failed reliever who was pulled out of the Dodger scrap heap has not worked as a starting pitcher for the Pirates. Shocking, I know.
Thomas Hatch has worked as an opener twice but has allowed 3 earned runs in 4.2 innings pitched in these two outings. Bailey Falter has pitched well since joining the Pirates, but is that an arm you want to be counting on to win games? Probably not.
Sure, there have been injuries. JT Brubaker and Vince Velasquez were expected to be key cogs in this rotation. However, you need to be prepped to need at least 7 or 8 starting pitchers in an MLB season. That's just how baseball seasons unfold. Yet, here we are, nearly 4 full seasons into the Ben Cherington Era, and starting pitching doesn't exist for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This offseason Cherington and the Pirate front office need to address their starting rotation in a big way. Yes, there could be help coming next summer in the form of Paul Skenes, Anthony Solometo, and Jared Jones. However, odds are none of them will be in the rotation on Opening Day and it's far from a guarantee any of those three, let alone more than one of them, will pan out. Especially with Solometo struggling at Double-A and Jones at Triple-A this season.