First Pitch

First Pitch: The Tough Decisions When Francisco Liriano Returns

First Pitch: The Tough Decisions When Francisco Liriano Returns

In the upcoming weeks, Francisco Liriano will be returning to the Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation, with his return currently anticipated for just after the All-Star break. The Pirates are getting good starts from their entire rotation, which will lead to a difficult decision when Liriano returns.

The current rotation consists of Gerrit Cole, Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton, Edinson Volquez, and Vance Worley. Of that group, only Locke has options remaining. However, Locke has some of the best numbers on the team, both in terms of ERA, and in terms of xFIP. Sending him down would allow the Pirates to keep everyone as a starter, but it would be removing one of their best starters from the rotation.

We know that Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton are safe, as they should be. Cole has a 3.78 ERA and a 3.56 xFIP. Morton has a 3.30 ERA and a 3.78 xFIP. That leaves Volquez and Worley as the only options remaining.

Both guys could be considered reclamation projects. They're both coming off down ye...

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Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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