Even though the 2023 season may have just started, let's take an extremely early preview of the Pittsburgh Pirates potential 2024 rotation
We aren't even a month into the 2023 season, but it's never too soon to look ahead at the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirate starting rotation is starting to take shape, and as of right now, they look to have a semblance of stability. So, in about 365 days, what could the Pirates' 2024 starting rotation look like?
At the time of writing this, there seems to be a solid three in the big leagues right now. That's Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras, and Johan Oviedo. Keller has done a complete 180 over the past year. After the 2021 season, he looked like a complete bust, but over his past 144 innings, Keller has a strong 3.25 ERA. He's starting to look like a quality no. 2 starter.
Oviedo has looked lights out so far this year. The former St. Louis Cardinal top prospect opened the season with a rough first inning but has allowed just one run over his past 17.1 frames. Contreras has flashed plenty of talent, although he seems to be somewhat inconsistent at times.
Although I am not in the Pirate war room, I highly doubt that Vince Velasquez and especially Rich Hill are in the cards for a second year, at least right now. If either does great and the Pirates don't trade them, then maybe one will return for 2024. However, that's a major if, and based on things right now, they're only one-year rentals.
Having Keller, Contreras, and Oviedo as the three primary starters is a good core, so who else do the Pirates have to round out the starting rotation? Based on things right now, the last two rotation spots will likely house Quinn Priester and Luis Ortiz. Preister, the organization's 2019 first-round draft pick, has pieced together two quality seasons in 2021 and 2022. He's on track to make his MLB debut sometime later this year.
Luis Ortiz has a blazing fastball and a devastating slider. Some have questioned his changeup, though it did display above-average movement last year in his brief major league call-up. There's a reason Ortiz has started to pop up on top 100 prospect lists.
The Pirates will have a decent rotation if they enter 2024 with some mix of Priester, Keller, Contreras, Oviedo, and Ortiz. But there are certainly other players who could make a push for a rotation spot. Hopefully, Mike Burrows's injury isn't anything major and wouldn't affect his 2024 season. That is the primary reason I have both Preister and Ortiz over Burrows right now. Kyle Nicolas is another arm who may be in contention for an early-season rotation spot. Max Kranick will also likely be returning, giving them some extra depth.
There's certainly a lot to look forward to in the Pirates' near future. I definitely think the Pirates are set to build around Keller, Contreras, and Oviedo. There's enough talent in the system that the Pirates should be able to find at least one good starting pitcher to support them, assuming they'd pursue a free-agent option to fill in the last spot if need be.