The Pittsburgh Pirates could see a handful of reinforcements to their starting rotation arrive in the majors as they head into the second half of the 2024 season
The Pittsburgh Pirates are relying on a lot of young pitchers, for better or for worse, in 2024. But many of them could be up by the end of the first half of the year. On top of that, they’ll get some back from injuries. Because of that, the Pirates could be setting themselves up for a strong second half of the year, leading to a successful campaign. By successful season, I mean at least above .500 and possibly a second Wild Card spot, and based on what the Pirates have coming up, both goals are entirely possible, at least in my opinion.
The Pirate rotation is, at best, shaky right now. Mitch Keller will look to be more consistent in 2024 and more akin to his first half. Marco Gonzales provides some stability, given his track record of solid results and workload. Martín Pérez will look to continue his solid second half but out of the rotation instead of the bullpen. Roansy Contreras, Luis Ortiz, and Quinn Priester will look to rebound to their 2022 form. I still believe the Pirates will add another arm before the season begins, but it’s not an awe-inspiring group.
But if they can tread water until at least June and sit around a .480-.510 winning percentage, the rotation will get some significant upgrades. By then, you’ll probably start seeing the arrival of Paul Skenes and Jared Jones. Skenes should rocket through the minor leagues, and even if he’s only on an innings limit of 150-160 innings, he will still get the call to the bigs if he is healthy. Jones posted some solid numbers at Triple-A last season and could reach the big leagues before Skenes.
If that’s not enough, then the Pirates could get even more arms back later in June. By the end of the month, both JT Brubaker and Mike Burrows, both of whom got Tommy John just two weeks apart from each other in April 2023, could be ramping things back up. Brubaker had been a starter for the Bucs in 2020-2022, but Burrows had shown a lot of development in those years as well. Having both ready for action by July will be massive for the Pirates’ starting pitcher depth chart.
By the All-Star Break, the Pirates could have a handful of more options at their disposal. Skenes and Jones should already have some starts under their belt, and both Brubaker and Burrows should be back in action at Triple-A, at the very least, if not have made their MLB season debuts. That could set the Pirates up for a decent amount of success in the second half of the 2024 campaign.