The first 4 are pretty much a given, the order is what is not a given. The first 4 will be Maholm, Duke, Ohlendorf and Morton. I’ll dig into what the order will be sometime in the next week.
For this post I am looking at who I see as the 5th starter. The front runners are Hart and McCutchen. Veal has an outside shot at the spot, but he really needs to be stretched out a bit in the minors as a starter after spending 2009 coming out of the pen as a rule 5 pickup. Brad Lincoln also has a shot, but the Pirates seem dead set to keep him in AAA for at least the start of the season. Think arbitration clock and you will know why.
Let me preface my prediction by saying one thing, don’t expect the loser to spend time in Indy.
McCutchen is too much like Duke and Maholm by being a finesse pitcher, although from the other side of the rubber. By being too much like Duke and Maholm, this actually lends more to a rotation spot than spending time in the bullpen. Would you want the same type of pitcher relieving a guy who just got pulled after 3 innings?
I am leaning towards McCutchen, more because he had 179 IP’s last year between AAA and Pittsburgh, that would allow him to go around 210 innings before the Pirates would start pulling back on the reins. In other words, McCutchen could go the entire season as a starter and not reach an inning limit.
Hart had approximately 133 IP’s last season between minors and majors. The Pirates would have to shut him down or limit him when he got around the 165 IP mark.
Hart has the pitches to really fit in the pen. In the last 2 seasons, he has spent more time coming out of the pen than starting. Over the two years, Hart has appeared in 89 games between the minors and majors. Of those 89 only 32 were starts. The Pirates do look at him as a starter, but he will either need to be stretched out this year, possibly in Indy, or be tabbed as a long reliever. My bet is as a reliever and emergency starter.
My call for the 5th starter: Daniel McCutchen
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