Pittsburgh Pirates: The Rotation and How They Got Here

St. Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates
St. Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Pirates need their starting pitching to take a step forward this year. They have plenty of options that could help that happen.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have struggled in recent years, and one of the areas where they have had particular difficulties is in their starting rotation. Having a better rotation would be essential to help the Pirates become more competitive and improve their chances of winning games.

Mitch Keller is a starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2014 MLB draft and made his MLB debut in 2019. Keller has shown flashes of promise but has struggled with consistency and injuries throughout his young career. In 2021, he had an ERA north of 6 and it really looked like Keller was not going to make it as a starter.

Johan Oviedo is a starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was signed by the Cardinals as an international free agent in 2016 and made his MLB debut in 2020. Oviedo is a tall, hard-throwing right-hander with a promising fastball and slider. He has struggled with command at times but has shown flashes of potential. In 2020 he debuted, and he had a 0-3 record with a 5.47 ERA in five starts. After being traded to the Bucs last year he posted a 3.23 ERA in 7 appearances.

JT Brubaker is a starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The big righty was drafted out of the University of Akron. He was drafted by the Pirates in the sixth round of the 2015 MLB draft and made his MLB debut in 2020. Brubaker is a sinkerballer with good command and an ability to induce ground balls. Brubaker has really continued his development and become a reliable starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Rich Hill is a left-handed starting pitcher who played most recently for the Boston Red Sox. Hill has played for several teams during his career, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, and Chicago Cubs.

Hill's career has been marked by ups and downs. He struggled with injuries early in his career and bounced around between several teams before finally finding success as a starting pitcher with the Dodgers in 2016. He was named an All-Star that year and helped lead the Dodgers to the World Series. Hill is known for his sweeping curveball and ability to generate swings and misses. He has also developed a cutter and changeup to keep hitters off balance. His veteran leadership will be invaluable to the pitchers this year.

The team will have a bit of a competition for the last spot in the rotation. While Luis Ortiz earned the job last by performing well at the end of last season, he also just kind of all of a sudden came onto the prospect scene. Speaking of prospect status, if the Organization truly believes in Ortiz then they will likely keep him down for Super-2 reasons. This would open the door for veteran Vince Velasquez. Velasquez has pitched as a starter and more recently a reliever.