The Pirates stand with one of the best records in baseball near the middle of June, and only have one starter active in the rotation from the start of the season – and it is Jeff Locke.
The season started with AJ Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jonathan Sanchez, and Jeff Locke. Now with Burnett, Rodriguez, and McDonald on the DL, and Sanchez no longer on the team, Locke is the only remaining.
They did have Jeanmar Gomez for a while and he was pitching well, but he is also on the DL.
To start the season, they had Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton on the DL, but they’ve now since returned as part of the rotation. Of course, they called up Gerrit Cole too. But, that’s only four.
Andy Oliver is on the 40 man roster already and would be due to pitch this Friday, so that is my guess. But, they may use Brandon Cumpton and release Mike Zagurski from the team since he has been awful at the Major League level. But, the Bucs rarely dump someone who might have any value anywhere, so I’ll guess Oliver.
What happens when Burnett, Rodriguez, McDonald, and Gomez all return from the DL?
Burnett and Rodriguez will enter the rotation. No doubt about it. Oliver/Cumpton will return to AAA. Liriano will have to implode not to be a part of the rotation, so he’s safe. If Cole shows signs of struggle, he may be sent down, but I just don’t see it happening. He will have down games, but I don’t think consecutively. He just goes about the game the right way and I can’t imagine him not sticking around. Locke has been so consistent, it is difficult to imagine him not sticking, but no sure thing.
That leaves Morton, McDonald, and Gomez all pitching for roster spots, not even a rotation slot. That is amazing to me. The way the bullpen has been performing, they have their work cut out for them there too. I certainly think Gomez deserves a spot somewhere. Morton just has too good of stuff and the ability to induce ground balls not to have a spot. McDonald could force his way into the rotation with his ability, but he could be in trouble of not having a part of the team.
The bullpen is pretty much set with Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, and Vin Mazzaro. I’m guessing Zagurski is gone, which opens up a spot for Morton. Which leaves Ryan Reid attempting to hold on to his spot against McDonald and Gomez. He won’t.
I’m guessing the Bucs get creative with the DL to shift pieces around to keep all pieces on the team. Ssshhh.