Now that spring training is underway, I’ve decided to try and predict what the Pirates’ starting rotation will end up being at the start of the season. Let’s get to it:
- Gerrit Cole
This one’s a no-brainer. Cole, when healthy, has shown top of the line stuff. With him focusing less on his fastballs and mixing in his sliders, sinkers, and his hard-curve last season, he’s become more and more the frontline starter the Pirates need him to be.
- Ivan Nova
What Nova did last year was no less than a resurgence. After a poor start to the season with the NYY, a trade to Pittsburgh was just what he needed. In eleven appearances with the Pirates, Nova posted a 3.06 ERA with 52 strikeouts to only three walks. If Nova builds off of what he did last season and keeps his control up, the Pirates will find themselves with an elite pitcher locked up for the next three years.
- Jameson Taillon
Taillon was drafted between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado for a reason. The fiery righty has finally made it to the majors after multiple injuries and has shown no signs of slowing down. With a monster curveball and great control, Taillon posted a whopping 7.4 strikeouts-per-nine-innings to go with only 1.5 walks-per-nine-innings. The one concern for Taillon is durability. After tommy-john surgery and a hernia derailed years of his development, will he be able to dodge the injury bug now that he’s in the majors.
- Chad Kuhl
Another second-year pitcher makes the rotation. Kuhl showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie campaign. His slider is one of the best in the business but his change-up needs some work. He had decent strikeout numbers with 53 in fourteen starts. If he works on varying his pitches, his rotation spot won’t be in jeopardy any time soon.
- Steven Brault
This spot was a toss-up between Brault and Williams. Neither have shown the flashes that Kuhl or Taillon have, but Brault edges Williams out simply because he has had more experience in the majors. His four-seamer and changeup are good. He just hasn’t had the consistency to make him an everyday starter. Brault is still young, so there is time for him to develop. Being a back-end starter should help with that.