P2Daily: Pirates Pitching Depth Finding Itself As Season Continues

Slowly but surely we have started to see the youth and prospect movement take over in Pittsburgh. Granted, sometimes it feels like it’s not enough, or quick enough but the next stage of the ‘build’ is underway.

One of the oldest sayings in baseball is that you can never have enough pitching because, well, it’s true. Whatever you feel like is a safe amount of pitchers to have to get you through an entire season, you generally need to add a few more.

Whether it’s injuries, or any of the countless other things that happens during the long baseball season, pitching depth is key.

The Pirates have invested heavily in pitching the last couple of years under Ben Cherington, whether it be by trade or through the draft. We’ve seen some of the top end prospects start to pay dividends, like Roansy Contreras in the majors or Mike Burrows being named to the Future’s Game.

Outside of that, we haven’t seen too many take the ideal step forward in their progression, at least to start the season. Over the last few weeks, however — and now that we are entering the All-Star Break as we take a look back at the bigger picture of things — you can see the progress.

It takes me back to a quote from Bradenton Manager Jonathan Johnston in a previous article on Rodolfo Nolasco. It’s talks about how in baseball specifically you have to look over the long-term to see how things start to move in the right direction.

Almost in a way how an artist takes a step back to examine a picture he is working on. Every now and again you need to take a step back to see how the painting is coming along. You can’t really see the progress until you can look at it from a wider lens.

There has to be an acknowledgment that the picture isn’t done, and there is more work to be completed, but it’s a more complete image than when the artist started.

I feel like that’s the pitching in this system. At first glance up close, there may not be that much change or progress being made, but step back, it’s a completely different painting. There are a couple of names that come to mind, both of them pitched on Saturday.

Quinn Priester is getting the results on paper, but I still feel like he’s far from the finished product people are hoping for at the moment. I feel like he might be the kind of pitcher that’s really going to suffer from rushing him, BUT giving him that extra little development would lead to an incredibly huge payout.

There are times when he seems to be in complete control, and others he’s fighting his own command. With the late start to the season, he’s really in his May while the rest are in July. His pure talent is allowing him to catch up some, but there’s still things being worked on.

He’s as competitive as it comes, and he’ll be a fan favorite in town almost immediately. Don’t rush it, it’ll payoff in the long run.

I was really interesting in really getting a look at Po-Yu Chen heading into the season, and he actually kicked things off fairly well (3.24 ERA in April) before kind of stalling out the next two months. The metrics on his pitches are insane, it’s just a matter comfort and repetition at that point.

Stepping back and looking at his current painting; he came out strong, the league pushed back on him and now he’s learning how to lean back on them. He threw six innings of shutout baseball while walking just a single batter. It’s just the second time he’s completed that many innings as a professional.

Contreras, Burrows, and Priester are all emerging as core pieces in the future rotation while Mitch Keller and JT Brubaker are veterans that can fill out behind them. That’s a good starting point.

The difference over an 162 game schedule will be the contributions they get beyond that core players, and taking a step back and seeing the progress of that painting that is 2022, maybe things are little better than it looked when things got underway.

We’ll be able to tell for sure when we take that final look at the finished piece at the end of the season.

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Today: Full-Season Clubs Finish Up Before the All-Star Break

Yesterday: Quinn Priester Throws Shutout Ball

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Yesterday: From Sprint to Limp into All-Star Break

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Huntington did well

Keller 2nd rd draft pick ’14 (3.86 fip 1.3 fWAR)
Brubaker 6th rd ’15 (3.72 fip 1.5 fWAR)
Burrows 11th rd ’18 (2.25 fip)
Preister 1st rd ’19 (2.59 fip)
Contreras acquired via Taillon (4.89 fip 0.1 fWAR)

Cherington still needs to find starters externally, you can’t count on prospects and a homegrown rotation.


We can only hope.


Priester is known for having an elite curve, but there were concerns about the shape of his four seamer. Can anyone update me on the changes he’s made?


Zach Thompson is an above-average starter who is under team control thru 2027. He should be in the mix as well 🙂


Hopefully relegated to the bullpen by better options.


Zach is a back of the rotation SP. His FIP is 5.44 suggesting that he is lucky to ‘only’ have a 4.09 ERA.


100% agree. I don’t think he’s someone you should count on. If the Pirates aspire to be better, they need to upgrade from guys like Thompson.

Last edited 2 months ago by Catch_22

No argument from me, but that’s a useful player.


I feel like a lot of people overlook him, so thank you for putting this out there!


Last year he had a great cutter and a very hittable fastball. This year everything seems more average, but he’s throwing the fastball less and the slider more.

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