By Zach Morrison @Zach_Morrison1 on April 20, 2014
The Pittsburgh Pirates relied heavily on pitching in 2013. They hope they can rely on pitching and defense this season too, but it hasn't worked out so far. The starting rotation has regressed from last year to this year, but the bullpen has just been even more dominant this season.
The Pirates' ace in 2013, Francisco Liriano has gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season. In 25 innings, the lefty has a 3.96 ERA and 4.12 FIP. He has gotten 10.08 K/9, but he has also gotten a bit unlucky, surrendering 1.44 HR/9.
After a great debut season, Gerrit Cole hasn't gotten off to a start that he would have hoped for. He has a 4.74 ERA in 19 innings with a 4.71 FIP. His strikeouts are down a bit, with just 7.58 K/9, but that will surely rise as the summer moves along.
In 25 innings, Charlie Morton has a 4.32 ERA and 4.60 FIP. He is getting far fewer ground balls this season. His ground-ball percentage has dropped from 62.9 in 2013 to 51.4 this season. With how good Morton's sinker is, expect him to start getting more ground balls.
Injuries and age seem to have won the battle against Wandy Rodriguez this season. He certainly isn't himself, as he has a 7.65 ERA and 6.93 FIP in 20 innings in 2014. Whenever Rodriguez pitches, the opposing team has played home-run derby this season, with Rodriguez giving up 3.15 HR/9.
It's hard to believe, but Edinson Volquez has been the Pirates' best starter this season. In 21 innings, Volquez somehow has a 1.71 ERA. Remarkably, his career 4.68 BB/9 is all the way down to 1.71 BB/9 in 2014. He probably won't continue to dominate, but it is fun to watch right now.
I had major worries about Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon before the season, and so far they have done better than I had expected. Grilli has blown two saves, but he seems to have his velocity back. The two lefties, Tony Watson and Justin Wilson, have dominated as expected. Stolmy Pimentel, Jeanmar Gomez and Bryan Morris have done a decent job in their roles as well, and the bullpen has a collective 2.89 ERA.
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