Pittsburgh Pirates: Top Five Starting Pitching Free Agents To Pursue

Who are the best free agent starting pitchers the Pirates should pursue?

Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) delivers a pitch during
Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) delivers a pitch during / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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Honorable Mentions

Hyun Jin Ryu

Hyun Jin Ryu has missed a good portion of the last two seasons. He underwent elbow surgery in ‘22 after making just six starts, and reappeared in August of 2023. However, Ryu returned strong, pitching to a respectable 3.46 ERA, 4.91 FIP, and 1.29 WHIP in 52 innings of work. While the veteran Korean lefty had a strong 6.3% walk rate, he also had a poor 17% strikeout rate, and even worse 1.54 HR/9. But his HR/FB ratio was just over 4% greater than his career norm. Even if he isn’t an ace like he was at his peak, he could still serve as a solid 3.80-ERA sort of pitcher.

Tyler Mahle

Tyler Mahle got off to a great start to the 2023 season, pitching to a 3.16 ERA, 4.19 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP in April. But the season didn’t last long for the right-hander, as he underwent Tommy John surgery in early May. If Mahle hadn’t undergone Tommy John surgery, he’d probably be in the top five of today’s list. I still wouldn’t be opposed to signing Mahle, but given that he probably wouldn’t return until May at the earliest, I’d want to see the Pirates to go after a more immediate solution. But I also wouldn't be upset if he was a starter the Pirates went after after acquiring some other starters.

Frankie Montas

Frankie Montas is another rebound candidate. The right-hander missed pretty much all of the 2023 season, pitching 1.1 innings at the end of this season. Montas underwent shoulder surgery in February, which caused him to miss nearly the entirety of the season. But Montas was a quality pitcher in 2021-2022, working to a 3.67 ERA, 3.55 FIP, and 1.20 WHIP in 2021-2022.

Luis Severino

Luis Severino is our second former Yankee honorable mention and rebound candidate. Severino returned from Tommy John surgery in 2022 with a 3.18 ERA, 3.70 FIP, and 1.00 WHIP through 102 innings. While hopes were high he could continue to be a quality starter for the Yankees, Severino fell flat, tossing just 89.1 innings, and posting a horrid 6.65 ERA, 6.14 FIP, and 1.65 WHIP. Severnio was effective as recently as 2022, so a low-cost one-year deal could work wonders.

Michael Lorenzen

Michael Lorenzen went from Comerica Park in the American League Central to Citizens Bank Park in the National League East. Needless to say, the transition didn’t go over super smooth. After an all-star first half with the Tigers, Lorenzen faltered down the line and was even moved to the bullpen. But signing Lorenzen would get him back into a more pitcher friendly environment, and has been a fairly solid pitcher over the last handful of seasons. The veteran righty owns a 3.88 ERA (113 ERA+), 4.18 FIP, and 1.27 WHIP dating back to 2018.  But this was the first year since 2015 Lorenzen both pitched out of the rotation for nearly all of his season and stayed relatively healthy enough to make at least 20 starts.

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