The future of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ rotation

The Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation has a very bright future ahead of them.
Mar 3, 2024; North Port, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes (30) throws a pitch in
Mar 3, 2024; North Port, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes (30) throws a pitch in / Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 6

The Pittsburgh Pirates seem set on building their team via pitching. They have a lot of it coming through their farm system, with the highly anticipated Paul Skenes making his debut very soon. But with so much pitching, how will the rotation potentially shape up? Who could we potentially see in the rotation long term?

Right now, it seems like the Pirates have a set trio they'll look to rely on for the foreseeable future. That trio consists of Mitch Keller, Jared Jones, and Paul Skenes. Keller was extended for five more seasons prior to the start of Spring Training this year. Although he has had some ups and downs since the second half of last year, he was still a very solid start for most of 2022 and the first half of '23. Jones has made a serious early bid to be a potential Rookie of the Year candidate. Skenes is slated to make his MLB debut Saturday. The Louisiana State University right-hander might be the most hyped prospect in baseball history, or at least since the likes of Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole in the early 2010s.

That's a pretty solid 1-3, but a rotation consists of five arms. What else could this rotation hold? Depending on the severity of Marco Gonzales' injury, he might return for a second season in Pittsburgh. Gonzales hit the IL with a flexor strain after just his third start of the year. He's still projected to return to the rotation this year. If so, he'll be a massive help to the Pirates. He opened the year with a 2.65 ERA, 3.50 FIP, and 1.18 WHIP across 17 frames.

The Pirates hold a relatively cheap $15 million team option over Gonzales, which isn't bad for someone who previously had a track record of being both durable and solid. He was one of just seven starters from 2018 through 2022 with an ERA under 4.00 in 750+ innings pitched. But this is the second year in a row he has missed a notable amount of time.