Credit: Julie Jacobson
After the Pirates traded away Mark Melancon, Francisco Liriano, and Jon Niese at the deadline many people thought the Pirates were rebuilding. That however does not appear to be the case as the Pirates sit only one game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL’s second wild card. The only chance for the Pirates to close that gap is to receive consistency in their pitching. Since the break there has been an improvement. In the Pirates current rotation only one member remains from the rotation at the beginning of the season. That man is Gerrit Cole and he’s been joined by rookies Jameson Taillon, and Chad Kuhl along with Ryan Vogelsong and deadline acquisition Ivan Nova. Surprisingly, this group may be the rotation that gives the Pirates the best chance to make the playoffs. Since being traded from the Yankees to the Pirates Nova is 2-0 in his first two starts. He however is not the only starter giving the Pirates hope.
Tailon, selected second overall in the 2010 draft, is finally over his injuries and in ten starts is 3-2 with an ERA of 2.85. Fellow rookie Chad Kuhl, who recently rejoined the rotation is 2-0 with a 3.91 ERA in his first five starts and veteran Ryan Vogelsong has been impressive when he’s toed the rubber. When the Pirates have made the postseason the last three years a big reason has been their pitching. In this past offseason they lost highly respected starter A.J. Burnett to retirement and J.A Happ. who revitalized his career after being traded to Pittsburgh at the deadline last year, to free agency. These were big losses however the Pirates were not worried because of the prospects they had waiting. Kuhl and Taillon are only the beginning to the talent the Pirates have in the minors. Tyler Glasnow, who has a very high ceiling, is injured; however he is expected to contribute when healthy. The Pirates have shown recently that if the pitching can give the offense a chance to win this is still a very good team. Even though Andrew McCutchen is slumping this team still has enough offense to win. Even though this Pirates team isn’t as dominate as they have been in the past three years, of late they are showing they still have a chance. If the rookies can continue to pitch well and Vogelsong can continue to find the fountain of youth, then this team may go farther than many people expect.