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Jason Mackey: With first base situation addressed, Pirates should now shift focus to starting pitching

Jason Mackey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Baseball

It was one of the underrated developments of the 2022 season. Amid another 100-loss campaign, the Pirates began to see the makings of a fairly strong rotation.

Mitch Keller figured it out. Roansy Contreras emerged. Luis Ortiz seemingly came out of nowhere, pumping gas. Johan Oviedo was a solid trade pickup, and JT Brubaker produced plenty of palatable numbers — a 3.92 FIP and 147 strikeouts in 144 innings.

Still, it's not enough.

Nor should it be.

"We believe in the group we have and the chance they have to keep getting better together," general manager Ben Cherington said after trading Kevin Newman earlier this month. "But we would like to add to the rotation."

With the signing of Carlos Santana ($6.725 million, one year) expected to be finalized this week, the Pirates creating a first base tandem featuring veterans Santana and Ji-Man Choi, they can now turn their attention to other places. Like starting pitching.

 

The good news is that available options abound. Let's examine.

Bounce-back candidates

It might not be sexy or splashy, but similar to Tyler Anderson and Jose Quintana the past two offseasons, it makes sense. Right-hander Michael Pineda is coming off a down year with the Tigers, who released him in September.

A right middle finger fracture and right triceps tightness limited Pineda, 33, to just 11 starts in 2022, where he had a 5.79 ERA with a .304 batting average against and 13 home runs in 46 2/3 innings.

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