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Readers Ask! 10/27/20

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2020 Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day
This guy’s ready for 2021.
Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

You’ve got questions, I’ve got opinions.

We talk a lot about pitching here at Bucs Dugout. More to the point, we talk about the lack thereof now and the possibilities for the future, #TankForKumar notwithstanding. So today it makes sense for me to get into a question that comes up a lot here, submitted by FriarFan32 this time around:

What’s your prediction for starting rotation next year and do you think we add a starter in free agency/trade or maybe retain someone like Archer?

I think it’s easier to name pitchers who won’t be here in 2021. You won’t see Chris Archer, who will undoubtedly be DFA’d. And as much as I like Trevor Williams as a person and Twitter raconteur, you can’t deal out home runs as he did in 2020 and expect to keep your job. I don’t think either Archer or Williams would be tempting to any other team except as possible reclamation projects.

However, if we go along with the thought that at some point Ben Cherington has told Bob Nutting “dude, you’re gonna have to open your wallet a little” (and I think Cherington did as a condition of taking the GM job), can see a situation where someone like Adam Frazier or Josh Bell along with some cash considerations might be able to shift a starting pitcher the Pirates’ way. Think of Tyler Glasnow in reverse. Cherington loves developing players, and Oscar Marin would welcome the chance to put his stamp on a Pirates starter.

What about next year’s rotation? The Big Three everyone seems to mention are Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove and Mitch Keller, but there are questions about all of them. With Taillon, obviously, it’s health, although his recovery from Tommy John 2: Electric Boogaloo was reported to have gone well and there were heavy rumors that he was ready to pitch in September if he was given the go-ahead. Musgrove is trade bait—the Pirates came very close to dealing him to the Blue Jays this summer, and I don’t think their plans have changed very much since he’s not homegrown. Keller showed an emerging poise and control in 2020, but his time to be the main guy hasn’t arrived just yet in my opinion.

Both Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl have decent chances to make the rotation. Kuhl’s bounceback from his own Tommy John surgery was encouraging, and Brault seemed to have settled down and displayed the ability to pitch out of jams. Both of them got killed by the Bucs’ lack of run production—let’s face it, the whole staff got killed by that—but if they continue in the same vein that they did this season, I don’t see how they don’t make the rotation.

Keep the questions coming, commentariat!