Should the Pirates open the year with a six-man rotation?

The Pirates have enough pitching depth to attempt a six-man rotation, so should they attempt one to start the season?
Mar 5, 2024; Bradenton, Florida, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Quinn Priester (64)
Mar 5, 2024; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Quinn Priester (64) / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a decent amount of depth among their starting rotation. But should they try to use a six-man rotation to open the year?

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ rotation seems to be fairly set. They’ll likely open the season with Mitch Keller, Marco Gonzales, Martin Perez, and Roansy Contreras as their first four starting pitchers. Jared Jones is making a serious bid for the final starting rotation spot, but so have Quinn Priester and Luis Ortiz. They also have a handful of depth options, like Domingo German, Eric Lauer, Wily Peralta, and Chase Anderson. With so many options to choose from, should the Pirates think about attempting a six-man rotation?

I think there are two ways they could do this to open the season. The first would be more traditional. After Keller, Gonzales, Perez, Contreras, and hopefully Jones, the Pirates would make either Priester or Ortiz the 6th starter. The other would either go to the bullpen or to Triple-A to keep stretched out as a starting pitcher.

The second option is less conventional. This strategy would involve both Priester and Ortiz piggybacking starts. Ortiz or Priester would start the game, go three or four innings, then pass the rock to the other pitcher for the next three or four innings. This could also give the bullpen some time off if both pitchers are firing on all cylinders. They could conceivably make it to the 7th or even 8th inning with only two pitchers used.

There are some other benefits from using a six-man rotation. Aside from giving the bullpen depth some rest in a piggyback option, it also gives all the starters an extra day of rest. This is also important because the Pirates have multiple pitching prospects that will likely be on an innings limit or will be eased back into action.

Paul Skenes will likely only pitch 150-160 innings this year after pitching about 130 frames last year for Louisiana State and in the Pirates’ minor league system. Mike Burrows is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Bucs will probably ease him back into a starting pitcher role once he returns from rehab.

The Pirates have the pitching depth to try this out, at least to start the year. I

don’t think it would be a bad idea. Sure, it might be unconventional, but it gives the pitchers an extra day of rest, could help reduce the usage of the bullpen, and gives them the opportunity to take it easy with both Skenes and Burrows once they reach the Major Leagues.