Pittsburgh Pirates’ Rotation Depth
You can never have too much pitching. The Los Angeles Dodgers proved that earlier this season, with many innings and hundreds of millions of dollars on the disabled list. The Pittsburgh Pirates are in a similar situation as the team has eight potential starting pitchers, but four of them are currently on the disabled list.
AJ Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez are veterans who have anchored the rotation. Burnett has resurrected his career in his time with the Pirates, avoiding the pressure placed on him by the New York media. Rodriguez, similarly, is being partly paid by another team. He has pitched well in just about one full season with the Pirates. Their ability to buy-low on these two starters, while not paying the entire price tag, has been a huge component of their early season success in 2013.
Jeff Locke and Francisco Liriano have both overachieved massively thus far, but they are holding onto their spots tightly in the Bucs’ rotation. Locke does not strikeout enough hitters, and he is therefore subject to variance on balls in play. Having been very successful thus far, Locke is due for regression on hit balls, as it is nearly impossible that he gets out on such a high percentage of batted balls. Liriano’s career has been categorized by many strikeouts, a high WHIP, and much time spent on the disabled list. After beginning the season on the DL, he has had success behind many strikeouts thus far. His injury and walk history, however, seem all too likely to keep up with him.
The remaining four starters – James McDonald, Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens and Jeanmar Gomez – are all wild-cards. Gomez just went on the disabled list, and Karstens is not due back soon. McDonald was wildly ineffective before he went on the disabled list. This leaves only Charlie Morton as a likely contributor anytime soon. Morton should be ready to return before the Pirates need a fifth starter, so there will be a spot ready for him when he comes back.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.