Checking In On Pittsburgh Pirates Starting Rotation Through 50 Games

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Pittsburgh Pirates Pitching Update

Clint Hurdle
Howard Smith-USA Today Sports

Through the first 50 games of the 2013 MLB season, the Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves at 30-19 but are still just third in the National League Central. Needless to say, the NL Central is the toughest division in baseball this season. It seems like the Pirates win every day these days. When I check the scores around baseball, the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals also won.

The Pirates had the toughest schedule in April and followed that up by a very easy May schedule. In April, the Pirates hung around, playing a little over .500. But in May, the Pirates have extended themselves to this 11 games over .500 record. The 2013 edition of the Pirates is doing one thing in particular that they didn’t do in 2012: Beating up on teams that they should beat. Piling up wins against mediocre competition is very important because it gives them more room for mistakes against better teams.

Scoreboard watching in May is silly though, and only baseball-obsessed people like me really do it. As long as the Pirates can keep winning, stockpiling wins that will be needed come August and September, they should be in good shape when it comes down to the final few games in terms of playoff positioning.

The Pirates have been led mainly by their pitching, from their starters all the way down to the closer. As a staff, the Pirates are currently second overall with a 3.22 ERA, third in WHIP and first with a .223 batting average against. Let’s take a look at the Pirates’ starting rotation and how they have been performing through 50 games.

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A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

A.J. Burnett has been the Pirates' most consistent pitcher all season. The right-hander hasn't been getting much run support recently. He sits at 3-5 with just a 2.57 ERA and leads the National League with 85 strikeouts.

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Wandy Rodriguez

Wandy Rodriguez
Brad Penner-USA Today Sports

The Pirates' left-hander has been good all season. He isn't overpowering and he doesn't dazzle anyone with amazing stuff. His success is based almost entirely on fastball command and a very good curveball. So far in 2013, Rodriguez is 5-2 with a 3.40 ERA with only nine walks in 50.1 innings pitched.

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Francisco Liriano

Francisco Liriano
Jesse Johnson-USA Today Sports

Francisco Liriano has only made three starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but his three starts have been outstanding. If he kept up this pace, and he probably won't, he would be the NL Cy Young Award winner. In his three starts, Liriano is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 18 innings.

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Jeff Locke

Jeff Locke
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

I keep waiting for Jeff Locke to quit pitching well, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm not going to lie and say I am completely sold on Locke being this good because he still doesn't strike a lot of batters out and he gives up a lot of hard contact. Much of his success has been because of the Pirates' great defense and a little bit of luck. Nonetheless, Locke finds himself 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 58.2 innings.

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Jeanmar Gomez

Jeanmar Gomez
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

Jeanmar Gomez is just holding down the fifth spot in the rotation until Charlie Morton returns from the disabled list, but he is performing exceptionally well while doing so. In 36 innings combined between a starter and reliver, Gomez is 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA and 21 strikeouts. He also has a very good 1.17 WHIP.

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