The Pittsburgh Pirates have had one of the best starting rotations in all of Major League Baseball in 2023. The pitching staff as a whole was the question mark heading into the 2023 season and so far they have performed better than anyone could have expected. The team currently ranks 7th in all of Baseball in terms of earned run average. The staff has a 3.55 ERA.
However, the last game of the series against the Washington Nationals was a telling reminder that this team will need more pitching as the year goes on. This is something that is obvious and always talked about, but needs to be reinforced. Johan Oviedo has had some really good starts this season, but against the Nationals on Sunday he gave up 7 earned runs on 9 hits without escaping the 3rd inning.
This is going to happen. Not every game is going to be perfect and go the way that we hope. The issue is that the Pittsburgh Pirates are currently performing in a small sample size. For as many good starts as Oviedo has had his ERA in almost 5. It is okay he is young and still learning and improving on his craft.
This is going to be part of the process of having young pitchers. The good news is that the team has pitching coming in the form of prospects. The biggest one of note is Luis Ortiz. Ortiz proved to be dominant in his short 2022 Major League time punching out 17 in 16 innings pitched.
After appearing in 4 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ortiz ascended prospects lists becoming a consensus Top 100 prospect. He quickly became one of the Buc's top pitching prospects. However, with his dominant performance and rise in prospect rankings came one negative.
It was pretty much a guarantee that the flashes Ortiz showed would keep him off of the 2023 Opening Day Roster. For all the changes the Bucs have made over the past few years, they are still holding firm with prospects and Super-2 status. This is exactly how it played out and Ortiz would be demoted to Triple-A out of Spring Training.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will rely on Luis Ortiz at one point or another this season, and he is giving the Organization every reason to.
The best news in all of this is that Ortiz has not slowed down. Sometimes players can have the wrong attitude and just simply regress when they feel they should be in the Major or not. Pittsburgh Pirates fans saw this years ago with former top prospect Alan Hanson.
This year, Ortiz has made 6 starts for the Indianapolis Indians. In those 6 starts, he has pitched 29.1 innings and has struck out 26. What is really telling is that his ERA is just 2.45 and he is doing a great job of limiting baserunners posting a WHIP of 1.02. It appears that the flashes that Pittsburgh Pirates fans saw at the end of the 2022 season were not flashes. Ortiz is off to a really strong start and will be the reinforcement that the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff will need at some point this summer.