One of the myriad options for starting a season in MLB would cause a condensed schedule with built in double headers and far fewer off days. To combat the effects of moving forward with such a schedule one of the proposals, and it should be obvious, more pitchers would be needed. Now, for some clubs this could help them avoid a few tough decisions, for the Pirates they might be tough for a whole other reason.
The Bucs have options, as do all teams, part of what goes into the decision would assuredly be just how many pitchers you think you have. We have no real vision of a proposed schedule but if we assume at least 1 double header and sometimes 2 in a given week, a club would like to have 6 or 7 Starting pitchers.
Do the Bucs have 6 or 7? Surely, Archer, Musgrove, Williams, Brault, Keller, Holland, Ponce, Brubaker, Stratton and we could go on. Now, how many of those would you want to trot out there every fifth game? The first 5 are pretty easy, Archer, Musgrove, Williams, Keller, Brault/Holland.
I think if I’m the Pirates I go with 6 starters and keep utility stretch man Cody Ponce in Pittsburgh. Ponce would do well starting bullpen only games and may even work his way into the rotation should any of the six falter.
In many ways, this keeps the Pirates from having to answer a few tough questions, at least for now. Holland or Brault to the bullpen was going to come up and if this concept does come to pass, they will now be able to keep them both stretched out and in the rotation. It could also give them the ability to finally at long last keep opposing lineups at least a little less comfortable. Setting up the rotation to not allow the opposition lineups to get settled in by alternating lefty’s and righty’s, something like this; Musgrove, Holland, Archer, Brault, Keller and Williams.
All those options and the Bucs again would find themselves an injury or two from a very bad place. Chad Kuhl deserves to be mentioned as an option but man its so hard to ask a guy recovering from TJ and had it stunted, to go out there and start. Maybe he does, perhaps he is one of the six and the Bucs do have to answer the Holland/Brault question.
No matter what, nobody would head into the year feeling super optimistic about the 1-5 starters, its hard to imagine 1-7 would make you feel more confident. The one thing the Pirates might have over some competitors however, we always here they don’t have any number ones, instead a bunch of 4s and 5s. That very fact might actually serve them well, because they have A LOT of them. Some of the competition will have three very strong starters and a fairly weak 4 and 5.
Let’s look at the Cards because we all know they’re our dream for running an organization. Flaherty, Hudson, Mikolas OK, now that’s solid. That 1-3 is the envy of most teams outside LA. Then we head to Wainwright, would I take him as a 4 or 5 on my team? Honestly, no, I was shocked they brought him back last season. Ponce de Leon has promise, Kim is a wildcard, Martinez is either a starter or a closer and as of now they haven’t decided. Now that’s 7, if you want 8 you go Gomber. Even with a delay Mikolas could start on the IL.
In a five-man rotation, those top three can carry a team to great heights, in a six- or seven-man rotation you could very well lose the impact of your best tossing the majority of starts. This could allow a team with lesser top end talent to even the playing field a bit by trotting a more overall competent rotation in totality.
So, there it is, clear as mud huh? What I can say is on the surface it doesn’t look great, but if you look a little deeper, it could actually help the Pirates compete.