The Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation could certainly use an upgrade.
Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole have been solid, if unspectacular this season. The rest of the rotation, however, has been unimpressive. Jonathon Niese, Jeff Locke, and Juan Nicasio all have ERAs north of 4.00. If the Pirates want to contend, addressing this weak spot should be a priority.
Luckily for them, Pittsburgh has two top pitching prospects currently dominating in Triple-A. In six starts this season for Indianapolis, Jameson Taillon has posted a 1.69 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. Tyler Glasnow has been very impressive as well, with a 2.13 ERA and 1.18 WHIP spanning 38 innings.
As Stephen J. Nesbitt details in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the organization isn't necessarily delaying their promotions in order to for them to get more experience in the minors, but in an effort to extend the club-controlled years on their contracts.
This strategy is becoming more and more prevalent around baseball. The Cubs notoriously left Kris Bryant off their opening day roster last season, waiting two weeks before finally calling him up. This ended his rookie campaign exactly one day short of a full season, in MLB service time. Chicago now has an extra year before Bryant is eligible for free agency.
Nesbitt predicts that Taillon and Glasnow could both be on the roster at some point next month. For a Pirates team hovering around .500, pitching reinforcements could be exactly what's needed for a successful remainder of the year and a return to the postseason.
Here's more news surrounding the NL Central:
- Cubs ace Jake Arrieta dismissed the possibility of giving the team a "hometown discount" on a new contract. Arrieta, who is eligible for free agency after the 2017 season, was asked about his contract status after Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg signed a seven-year, $175 million extension earlier this week. Arrieta also made it clear he believes he deserves more than Strasburg received.
- The Cardinals' style of play has shifted dramatically this season. They're relying on their offense to win games now, a stark contrast to the pitching-centric teams of past years. St. Louis has scored 10 or more runs 10 times this season and they lead the majors in home runs.
- The Brewers completed a trade with Tampa Bay, acquiring a bullpen arm in righty Jhan Marinez. Marinez has only pitched nine innings in the majors, compared to 432.1 frames in the minor leagues. He posted a 2.45 ERA in three appearances this season. The Rays received cash considerations in the deal.