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A look at the Pirates’ rotation minus Chris Archer

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates-Media Day Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

If we have baseball in 2020, Chris Archer will not be apart of it. This past week, he underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, ending his season.

Archer’s career with the Pirates has been sad, to say the least. Over parts of two seasons, the 31-year-old righty has tossed 172 innings. During that span, he’s gone 6-12 with a 4.92 ERA. He’s struck out 203 opponents while walking 73.

In 2021, Archer has a team option worth $11 million. It’s hard to say whether or not the Pirates will pick that up. If not, Archer’s career in Pittsburgh is over.

To pour salt on the wound, the players traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Archer have been studs. Tyler Glasnow looks like a legit ace when healthy. Austin Meadows was an All-Star last season. Both of those players are young, cheap, and controllable for years to come. Meanwhile, Fangraphs has Shane Baz, the player to be named later in the deal, as the 116th best prospect in baseball. At age 20, he has plenty of time to climb those rankings.

This trade will go down as one of the most lopsided deals in baseball history.

Moving forward, what does the current starting rotation look like?

Joe Musgrove

Trevor Williams

Mitch Keller

Steven Brault

Derek Holland

With Archer out, there is no longer a race between Brault and Holland for the fifth starter spot. Assuming that Brault’s shoulder is all healed up, both will be in the rotation.

Simply put, this rotation isn’t good. Musgrove is probably a number three starter at best. Williams is a five. Keller has the potential to be special in the future but still needs to time develop. Brault and Holland are fringe major league starters.

Once again, if we have baseball in 2020, this rotation will struggle to string together quality outings.


Chad Kuhl - Fresh off of recovering from Tommy John surgery, it is still unclear whether or not Kuhl will start games or come out of the bullpen. If he does start, the opportunity to take back a spot in the rotation will arise.

JT Brubaker - At age 26, Brubaker has still not reached the major leagues. Last season, arm injuries halted his progression. If healthy this season, he will more than likely get a shot at some major league innings.

Chris Stratton - Last season with the Pirates, Stratton saw success coming out of the bullpen. That said, he did start 26 games in 2018 with the San Francisco Giants. If needed, he could start games.

Robbie Erlin - Erlin was a non-roster Spring Training invite for the Pirates this year. Last season with the San Diego Padres, he had a 5.37 ERA in 55.1 innings. He made 37 appearances and started one game. In 2018, Erlin managed to start 12 games.