Thursday, June 5, 2014

How to Fix the Pirates Rotation Now (2014)

Yesterday I was lurking Twitter while scouring for interesting tidbits of news worth retweeting when I stumbled upon a conversation between two of my favorite Pirates informants: Pat Lackey and Tim Williams. Pat started by referencing an article that was published to Fangraphs on Wednesday ("Gregory Polanco Won’t Fix The Pirates’ Real Problem" by Mike Petriello) and they started to roll from there:

The above conversation was compiled using Conweets

We have complained about the Pirates' sluggish slugging when they are actually very close to league average. Poor pitching is the real dilemma, but how and when do they fix this problem? According to Mike, he would see Neal Huntington shock us with a trade to acquire either James Shields or Jeff Samardzija. Pat and Tim did not like the short-sightedness of Shields, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, and agreed upon Smartzilla. They also mentioned David Price as another alternative.

Any of these pitchers would be exciting additions to the Pirates rotation, but will they be buyers at the deadline? Perhaps. Who will be selling? The race is still relatively close, however it is fairly safe to assume the Diamondbacks, Phillies, Rays, Astros, Padres, and Cubs could all be potential sellers. Currently, they each own a losing record and their playoff expectancy is below ten percent. (Playoff Odds)

Who could be considered from these preemptive basement sales? If we only pay attention to players without attractive team-friendly contracts who remain under team control for at least one additional season, then the list could include the following:

How many of these aforementioned pitchers will actually appear on the trade block? I would be surprised to see more than half of these names mentioned, but I listed them regardless as they fit the description: A starting pitcher in their arbitration years who is currently or historically capable of pitching better than average.

All the options listed above appear to be better options than Edinson Volquez except Eric Stults and Trevor Cahill. Price or Samardzija are certainly the best options, but there are others to consider as well.

Who would you like to see in the rotation in addition to (or to substitute) any of our current Pirates starting pitchers? Who would you avoid?


  1. Dallas Keuchel is another name I'd have on my list.

  2. Keuchel is a sound choice. His FIP, SIERA, and GB/FB have all trended in the right direction since his debut in 2012. He's actually tied with David Price in fWAR (2.2) for this season when ranked alongside all the pitchers I mentioned earlier.

    However, I don't expect the Astros to shop him as they can retain him for the league minimum next season until he reaches arbitration for the first time in 2016. It's still possible, but the price for him will probably be very high because of all the years of affordable control the Astros would forgo if they lost him.