The Pittsburgh Pirates‘ success in 2013, to this point, has been built entirely on pitching and defense. All season, the Pirates have been near the top in starting pitching and bullpen statistics as a team; their defense has also been one of the top defenses statistically this season, thanks to smart shifting and positioning.
If the Pirates want to continue their great season and make a deep run into the playoffs, their starting pitching must sustain its success. Lately, things haven’t been looking promising for the rotation to continue pitching so well, with young stud Gerrit Cole seemingly approaching an innings limit that the Pirates’ front office has set for him (although the Pirates won’t tell the public what that number of innings is), Jeff Locke struggling mightily since the All-Star break, and Wandy Rodriguez‘s season possibly being over since he is going to see Dr. James Andrews next week.
The only two consistencies the Pirates have right now are their one and two starters, A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano. Surprisingly, their other top starter is currently Charlie Morton, someone that the majority of the fan base, including myself, had huge concerns about after his first few starts, due to a lack of being able to avoid a terrible inning or two in all of his starts. With Morton, a lot of luck is needed for him to succeed. For a ground ball pitcher like him, all he can control is getting the batters to hit the ball on the ground; he can’t control if the ball is hit to an infielder, or if it sneaks through the infield for a hit.
The Pirates need to figure something out, and they need to do it soon. The St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds are right behind them in the standings, and there is no more room for mistakes down the stretch. The Pirates either need to fix Locke and hope for Rodriguez to return this season, or they need to make a waiver trade to improve the team.