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A look at the Trevor Cahill signing

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MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates added to their starting rotation this week, signing veteran RHP Trevor Cahill.

The 33-year-old sinkerballer signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. The deal also includes incentives if various innings benchmarks are reached.

Last season with the San Francisco Giants, Cahill went 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA (4.48 xFIP) over 25.0 innings pitched (11 games, six starts). Although the sample size was extremely small, Cahill had a career-high in both strikeout rate (29.2 percent, career 17.8 percent) and walk rate (13.2 percent, career 9.5 percent). His ground ball rate of 33.3 percent was also well below his 54.0 percent career rate. Moving forward, it will be interesting to monitor whether those rates continue or revert to career norms.

In 2019, Cahill struggled as he had a 5.98 ERA (5.11 xFIP) over 102.1 innings pitched (-0.8 fWAR). In 2018 though, he was solid having a 3.76 ERA (3.80 xFIP) over 110.0 innings pitched (2.0 fWAR).

With the Pirates, Cahill will slot somewhere in the middle of the starting rotation. Similar to Tyler Anderson, he will be asked to eat innings. If he is effective, the Pirates can flip him at the trade deadline for a lottery ticket prospect or two.

If I had to guess, the Pirates’ current starting rotation will look something like this.

  1. Mitch Keller
  2. Tyler Anderson
  3. Trevor Cahill
  4. JT Brubaker
  5. Chad Kuhl/Steven Brault

It will be interesting to see if the Pirates go with a six-man rotation or if they handcuff certain starters (like they did last year with Kuhl and Brault). Guys like Cody Ponce and Wil Crowe will more than likely get a chance to contribute at some point too.