If you recall, a week ago I posted my thoughts and predictions for the Pirates 2014 campaign. In that post, I only hit on the offensive starting lineup, and didn't mention anything about the pitching staff. So, I thought it would be appropriate to analyze the hurlers as well.
Without further ado, the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day starting rotation!
First up, #1: Francisco Liriano!
2013: IP: 161 Record: 16-8 ERA: 3.02 K: 163 WHIP: 1.22
2014 Projected stats: IP: 170 Record: 14-11 ERA: 3.90 K: 178 WHIP: 1.67
Comments: I hate to say it, but I don't see Frankie having a repeat of last year, when he won comeback player of the year. Don't get me wrong, I love this guy. I love the attitude he brings to the mound, and I love watching confused batters hack and miss at his disgusting slider. I just can't see him achieving the same level of success he had last year. If he can stay healthy, I think he'll have a solid year, just not the outstanding season of 2013.
#2: Charlie Morton
2013: IP: 116 Record: 7-4 ERA: 3.26 K: 85 WHIP: 1.23
2014 Projected stats: IP: 175 Record: 13-7 ERA: 3.31 K: 131 WHIP: 1.36
Comments: Unfortunately this is the nicest card I have of Ground Chuck. Why do they call him Ground Chuck, you ask? Because it's catchy, yes, but also because he's a classic ground-ball pitcher (...and his name's Charlie). He's a real Derek Lowe type. Everything he throws breaks downward, and it's never more than theigh-high. In my opinion, he's probably the Pirates most consistent starter. He's not flashy by any means, but he's almost always able to pitch 5 or 6 strong innings, giving the Bucco bats a chance to win the game. I think he'll take a nice step forward in 2014.
#3: Wandy Rodriguez
2013: IP: 62 2/3 Record: 6-4 ERA: 3.59 K: 46 WHIP: 1.12
2014 Projected stats: IP: 181 Record: 11-10 ERA: 3.68 K: 155 WHIP: 1.32
Comments: I love this card. Shiny, low number, great sig. Wandy was plagued with injuries in 2013, sitting out the majority of the season on the back end. He's a very underrated starting pitcher in the major leagues, probably due to playing a total of 8 years with Houston. His lifetime record is 91-93 with an ERA of 4.01-- although these numbers are skewed by a three rough years to start his career. Since 2008, he's never had an ERA over 3.76, and he put together a streak of four 10-win seasons. He's not glamourous in any way, but he's a perfect middle of the rotation guy. I think he'll stay right on track with his career averages.
#4: Gerrit Cole
2013: IP: 117 1/3 Record: 10-7 ERA: 3.22 K: 100 WHIP: 1.12
2014 Projected stats: IP: 192 Record: 16-7 ERA: 3.05 K: 188 WHIP: 1.15
Comments: The phenom, as they say. Boy, is this guy exciting. Cole has been a highly-touted and incredibly exciting young prospect for the Pirates for several years, and has finally made a splash in majors. As a mid-sesason call-up in 2013, he certainly didn't disappoint. I don't see this guy struggling in any way, simply because he's never struggled at all in his young career. Gerrit will take a huge leap forward in his first full season, and he'll be anchoring the Pirates rotation for years to come.
#5: Edinson Volquez
2013: IP: 170 1/3 Record: 9-12 ERA: 5.71 K: 116 WHIP: 1.67
2014 Projected stats: IP: 158 Record: 8-14 ERA: 5.29 K: 106 WHIP: 1.58
Comments: Please excuse that silly piece of tape that a previous collector felt was necessary. We all know how that goes. The Pirates seem to have a ton of faith in Volquez, hoping that the pitching coaches can turn him around like they did with Liriano. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening. I've seen this guy play for a while now, and he just can't get it under control. He was a very cheap signing, so he's low-risk in that sense. However... he kind of sucks... so pitching him once a week seems pretty high-risk to me. I pray that I'm wrong in my predictions and he turns out OK. If not, I pray that the Pirates dispose of him before he can put up the stats that I've projected above.
So there you have it. In my eyes, it should be a solid year for the pitching staff. There's no doubt that's some talent, but all of the pieces will need to fall into place perfectly if the Bucs will have a shot at the postseason.
One last thing: If you haven't already seen, I'm holding a contest with some nice prizes. Check out the link if you like free cards!
Thanks for reading.