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Pirates 2021 season recaps: Starting pitching

Not a very good year on the mound for this position group.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t a great year for the starting pitchers for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Out of the four leaders in total starts — JT Brubaker, Wil Crowe, Tyler Anderson, and Mitch Keller — only Anderson finished the year with an ERA under 5.00. Anderson also finished with the lowest WHIP of any Pittsburgh starter, with a 1.200. And of course, he’s no longer a Pirate, being dealt to the Seattle Mariners in July after a false start trade attempt to the Philadelphia Phillies.

The staff, as it currently stands, lacks a real ace. And it lacks any certifiable young talent that’s ready to spend the majority of their time in the Major Leagues and do well.

Brubaker started off the season hot and looked like he may be in for a career year, but it was short-lived, and he finished the season just 5-13 with a 5.36 ERA and a 1.295 WHIP. He was Pittsburgh’s strikeout leader, which isn’t saying much, finishing with 129 on the year.

Wil Crowe was the opposite. He started off the season an ugly 0-5 with some short outings, before settling into a little bit better groove later in the year. He still finished with a yuck line of 4-8 with a 5.48 ERA and 1.569 WHIP.

Mitch Keller was... well, Mitch Keller. There were hopes that the 25-year-old righty would finally put it together this season, and it just didn’t happen. Keller was mostly bad, finishing 5-11 with a 6.17 ERA and a WHIP of 1.788, the highest WHIP of any regular hurler on the Bucs’ roster.

Chad Kuhl started 14 games for the Bucs this season, going 3-6 as a starter, but he was moved the bullpen in August. He finished the year 5-7 with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.432 WHIP.

The Pirates got nine starts from Chase De Jong, but he spent a lot of time injured. As did Steven Brault, who pitched in just seven starts on the year, and Trevor Cahill, who was also injured and started just eight games. Not that any of them were particularly effective, combining to go 2-12 on the year.

Dillon Peters, who the Bucs purchased from the Los Angeles Angels in July, started six games, going 1-2 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.350 WHIP. He also struck out 23 batters in 26 innings, though he’s not known as a high strikeout pitcher. The 29-year-old had some effective starts, but it’s not like he’s anyone’s idea of a solution to the starting pitcher problem.

Bryse Wilson, who came over in the Richard Rodriguez deal, wasn’t terrible, finishing with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.240 WHIP, and he’s also just 23 years old. While the other youngster getting a few starts, Miguel Yajure, was pretty bad. The 23-year-old righty had three starts, getting mostly shellacked. He finished with an 8.40 ERA and a 1.600 WHIP. It’s far from time to close the book on him, but it wasn’t an encouraging beginning to his Bucs career.

There is some hope on the horizon, as Roansy Contreras looked pretty good in his only start of year, going three innings pitched with no runs given up and four strikeouts. But pinning our hopes on a 21-year-old with one Major League start under his belt exemplifies the state of Buccos starters.

There’s also Quinn Priester, Carmen Mloodzinski, Michael Burrows and Omar Cruz in the Minor League system, meaning there are some possibilities on the horizon. But none of those four are ready for prime time, so the Pirates are likely to find themselves in a similar situation next season.

So what do you think, Bucs Dugout? Is there an answer for stabilizing the starting staff next season? Give us your thoughts in the comments.