Pirates starting rotation lacking Taillon and Glasnow
Photo courtesy // milb.com
The Pittsburgh Pirates are fresh off of being swept by their National League Central rival Chicago Cubs, and the biggest downfall for the Pirates was and has been, undoubtably, pitching.
The 2015 Pirates took pride in their dominant pitching staff, headlined by the best bullpen in the majors. The Pirates finished 2015 with the second-best pitching staff behind the NL Central winning St. Louis Cardinals with a 3.21 team earned run average (ERA).
After losing J.A. Happ to free agency and A.J. Burnett to retirement, the Pirates failed to bring in any productive arms. The Pirates did trade the hometown-kid Neil Walker to the New York Mets for left-hander Jonathan Niese, but Niese has failed to give the Pirates quality starts early on in 2016, while Walker is hitting home run after home run for the NL pennant winners.
The Pirates starting rotation has a combined 4.36 ERA, ranking 15th in the majors, but the Pirates pitching staff as a whole this season has the 20th ranked pitching staff with a combined 4.28 ERA.
Pitching is no doubt what wins divisions. If you look at the Cardinals and all their division crowns over the past 10 years, they have done it with fantastic pitching, starters and relievers.
The Pirates are going to have to find some sort of production from their starters if they hope to keep pace in the NL Central, but the production they need is going to come from below the big league level.
Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow are the top two pitching prospects in the Pirates farm system, and they are both dominating the Triple-A level.
Glasnow currently has a 2.08 ERA through his first five starts, racking up 37 strikeouts while giving up 12 free passes. His longest outing of the year has been six innings, but every other start has been five innings, totaling 26 innings for the Indianapolis Indians.
Glasnow could use a little more seasoning in the Triple-A crockpot, but his teammate seems major-league-ready.
Taillon has posted a 1.19 ERA through 30.1 innings on the mound, ringing up 26 batters and allowing just three free passes with a .76 WHIP. Taillon has gone six or seven innings in four of his five starts for Indianapolis, which proves he’s got the ability to go deep into a game once he gets called up.
Both of these pitchers will be called up sometime this season, but it most likely won’t be soon enough.
The Pirates front office is waiting to call either of the two right handers up to The Show because they don’t want to miss out on the extra year of control they have if they wait to call them up in June.
Which means, Taillon and Glasnow most likely won’t wear black and gold until June, so the Pirates maintain an option for an extra year.
As of now, Niese has the highest ERA among Pirate starters, and if Niese continues his downward slope, he’ll be moved to the bullpen as a long reliever to make room for either of the rookies.
If Niese can improve his numbers before Clint Hurdle calls one of these guys up, Nicasio will make his way to the bullpen, where he should be more effective than on the mound as a starter.
Jeff Locke has the second highest ERA among Pirate starters with a 4.73 ERA, which means he’s going to be another potential bullpen addition or be waived to make room for Taillon or Glasnow
As of right now, Taillon looks to be the most major-league-ready, and he could be called up as early as next week because he looks ready to face major league hitters.
However, it’s most likely that Taillon will be called up after June 1, so the Pirates maintain an extra year’s option on the right hander because all Pirates fans know how stingy the Pirates front office is when it comes to contracts and money.
Whenever these two prospects are called up, they could add the much-needed spark Pittsburgh needs to propel them to their fourth straight playoff appearance.