By: Alex Kozuko
After a sluggish June going 9- 19, the Pittsburgh Pirates have turned the page to a new chapter and in July going 14-7. The MLB trade deadline is right around the corner and Neil Huntington is going to answer the million(s) dollar question by deciding whether to trade for a starting pitcher. Pittsburgh fans were rejoicing when the young trio of Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow and Chad Kuhl got their call-ups. With these young, but unproven arms the question lingers, do they need a starting pitcher?
Jon Niese did not work out and now is in the bullpen with fellow starters Jeff Locke and Juan Nicasio. Huntington’s past would gear towards the Pirates using their farm system and letting the young kids play but there have been trade talks with Tampa Bay. They talked about the possibility of shipping out both top prospects Glasnow and Austin Meadows in return of receiving Chris Archer. Still, that goes against Huntington’s past philosophy.The best case scenario would be trading a mid-level prospect and Locke or Niese in return for a solid number 5 starter.
The second half is in the Pirates favor since they have the easiest schedule. Their next 12 games come against below .500 teams which includes Brewers, Braves, Reds, Padres.
Since the All-Star break the Pirates are tied for sixth in the National League for batting average with a .248. The division leader Chicago Cubs are 11th with a .238 average and Saint Louis Cardinals are 13th with a .229 average. Since the break the top hitters for the Pirates include rookie call up Adam Frazier batting .421, Jordy Mercer .375, and Starling Marte .333.
Still, pitching is where you win and lose games. The Pirates relievers have turned it around but starting pitching for them is ranked at the bottom of the league.
On the other hand, Gerrit Cole has an era of 2.78 in 87.1 innings pitched. Even though Fransisco Liriano struggles with walks (66) he still has a high number of strikeouts (109). Back to the young guns.
Taillon has pitched 40 innings and only allowed five walks with 31 strike outs. If he continues to keep his walks down and only give up two to three runs per game, he is a solid number three pitcher and possibly can leap frog Liriano to be second in the rotation. Kuhl has only pitched in one game and he dealt a full house, giving up one hit and striking out five through six innings pitched. Glasnow might have been nervous for his debut only pitching three innings and giving up three runs with three walks and now has some fatigue issues.
On the outside looking in, Huntington is going to stay put and elect not to make a splash. He is going to give the ball to the young trio of Taillon, Glasnow and Kuhl. The more times these young guns get on the mound, the better numbers you will see. As mentioned, having the easy schedule for the second half will only help the Pirates pitching staff moving forward.