Monday, February 23, 2009

Breaking Down The Potential Rotation

Okay this whole previewing the Pirates thing player-by-player thing is starting to get to me a little bit. Its just too...slow for my tastes. But this is my first time doing this sort of thing on my blog, and I have every intention of seeing it through to the end, but at the same time I want to cheat a little bit with regard to one of the most hotly contended positions on the roster, the starting pitchers.

And, in case you haven't noticed, I'm a definite math nut and like to size things up based on odds and percentages and what not, so I figured I'd give a percentage chance for each of the 10 "contenders" that Joe Kerrigan designated as potential starter candidates, along with a bit of an anecdote about each player. I also through out an over/under for each starter for the number of starts they make with the Bucs. Let me know which way you'd wager.

Paul MaholmI've got to be honest, I did not see Maholm's breakout season coming last year, and I'm still not 100% sold that he is as good as his numbers indicate last year. I do think he's a definite very solid 3/4 starter, but when I watch him pitch I just don't see your typical ace material. But, hey, I'd love for him to keep proving me wrong.

There is absolutely no doubt though that Maholm is the Bucs ace for this season, will start every fifth day as long as his arm is healthy, and is as steady a pitcher as I can remember seeing wearing the black and gold.
Opening Day Rotation: 100%
Over/Under on season starts: 29.5

Ian Snell
If there is a player in this mix with ace-like potential (and I'm not sure that there is), it's most definitely Snell. He has a nasty demeanor to go with nasty stuff a solid, power arm and the ability to dominate when he's rolling. Unfortunately, Snell has yet to fully harness his abilities and his temperment, as evidenced by his incredibly disappointing 2008 season.

Snell figures to be given a lot of chances to right his ship given his extremely impressive upside. He also has become a workhorse with 3 straight 31+ start seasons. If he's healthy, he'll be out there.
Opening Day Rotation: 100%
Over/Under on season starts: 29.5

Zach Duke
I covered Duke just the other day in the previews, so I'm not going to spend much time rehashing him here. I just wanted to add that this percentage is on the organization's overall feeling about Duke, not my own personal. Reports are that he mostly has an opening day roster spot mostly sewn up. I'm not entirely sure I agree with this, but that's the rumor.
Opening Day Rotation: 95%
Over/Under on season starts: 25.5

Tom Gorzelanny
Gorzo is one of the more interesting cases on the roster. Its hard to get a good read on where the Pirates front office really stands on him. Certainly he had quite a promising 2007 season, but he was incredibly lackluster last season and new management has seen next to zero quality performance from Gorzo since they took over.
He is reportedly in better shape this spring, which is excellent to hear considering he had some issues with his conditioning(as you can see above). I mean, he was never in danger of becoming the next Jimmy Anderson, but it was something of a concern and a definite target on his back when he struggled last year. If Gorzo gets an opening day rotation spot, he could well end up putting 30 starts and close to 200 innings again. Or, he could disappoint in the spring games, end up in AAA early and not be able to crack a suddenly deeper Pirate staff for quite some time.
Opening Day Rotation: 70%
Over/Under on season starts: 20.5

Ross Ohlendorf
Given Ohlendorf's pedigree and his overall abilities I think the Pirates would very much like to slot Ohlendorf into the back of their rotation, and barring an absolute collapse or an impressive spring by McCutchen or Karstens or Gorzo or all of them, I think that odds are good they will give him at least a shot. Ohlendorf also gives the Pirates another potential power arm in the rotation, something to really consider when you figure there are probably two crafty lefty types with spots assured. Having a contrast like Ross would be a nice change of pace, similar to Ian Snell.
Opening Day Rotation:
Over/Under on season starts: 22.5

Jeff Karstens
Karstens made one hell of a debut in the Burgh last season, nearly throwing a perfect game in his second start after an almost-as-impressive performance in his first start. He came back to Earth a bit as the season wore on, but his surprising showing certainly had to catch the attention of the Pirates front office.

However, its more than likely that the red-hot debut was simply Karstens playing above his means in a league that didn't know what to expect from him. He doesn't have anything flashy in his repetoire, but definitely is a good depth guy to have and certainly deserves at least a shot at a rotation role. I'm not sure he'll get it, and he could be looking at a long relief role or a stint in Indy, but there's little question he figures to spend some time in Pittsburgh at some point.
Opening Day Rotation:
Over/Under on season starts: 14.5

Daniel McCutchen
McCutchen was yet another piece in the Xavier Nady trade that I think will end up looking like a bargain if even one of McCutchen and the previous two starters ends up turning into a solid piece in the rotation. I'm not yet sure that the other McCutchen is really ready for the show yet, as his AAA numbers after the trade were only mediocre.

Given how much major league rotations change over the course of a season, I fully expect we'll see Daniel in Pittsburgh at some point this season, but I think he'll need some seasoning first.
Opening Day Rotation: 15%
Over/Under on season starts: 8.5

Phil Dumatrait

Dumatrait was a big-time overachiever last season after being picked off the scrap heap from Cincinnati. However, his success was short-lived due to unfortunate injury. It's hard to get a bead on him this season, especially considering he was originally expected to be healthy for camp, then wasn't going to be, then was sorta healthy and could be a reliever but not a starter, and then finally was deemed to be a starter candidate. I'm not sure I buy it. I think Dumatrait is a nice depth piece to have, but he has taken a major tumble from where he was last summer before his injury on the organizational depth chart, and I think ends up as the long reliever on April 6.
Opening Day Rotation: 5%
Over/Under on season starts: 6.5

Jason Davis
There's basically no conceivable way he ends up in the Opening Day rotation barring some sort of plague or catastrophe. I suppose that, with another rash of injuries like the one that caused the Yoslan Herrera disaster of a year ago we could see him in the Burgh, but let's all just keep our fingers crossed that he spends the year toeing the rubber in Indy, or at most working as long man for the Pirates for a brief stint. Even that would be a little frightening.
Opening Day Rotation: 0%
Over/Under on season starts: 0.5

Jimmy Barthmaier

Barthmaier was basically thrown into this mix by Joe Kerrigan to give them an even 10 guys in their spring rotation. He'll be gone as soon as the schedule evens out and the other starters stretch their arms out enough that his services aren't needed. Similar to Davis, I don't want him anywhere near John Russell's starting lineup card.
Opening Day Rotation: 0%
Over/Under on season starts: 0.5

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