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It's Happening To The Pittsburgh Pirates Part 2 -
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have had 2 pitchers that have translated their quality outings into wins this season and those 2 pitchers are Charlie Morton and Kevin Correia. But there are other members of the staff that have suddenly turned in some outstanding efforts this season. The result is that the Pirates have 5 men in their rotation that are able to keep the opponent within striking distance of the offense.

James McDonald came to the Pirates near the end of last year in a trade with the Dodgers. Unexplicably the Dodgers couldn't seem to get enough out of McDonald. This just goes to show the sad shape the Dodgers are in right now. With not much of a chance given to him in the Major Leagues the Dodgers gave the Pirates McDonald and another prospect in Andrew Lambo. Lambo's story was a little different. He has a history of drug problems and was suspended for 50 games last year for what is believed to be marijuana usage. Nobody disputes his talent though and he was an integral part of the trade that sent Octavio Dotel to the Dodgers last year. McDonald has consistently kept the Pirates in games after some tinkering with the mechanics early in the season. His record is 4-4, but he has kept the Pirates in most of the games he's pitched.

Paul Maholm is the remaining cog from the last group of hopeful pitchers on the Pirates. He and Zach Duke and Tom Gorzelanny all were supposed to turn the Pirates fortunes around. Those other 2 were traded and Maholm remained. Why didn't the Pirates get rid of him? He's one of those guys that just has so much promise. He has always shown a lot of promise. This year he has pitched as well as he ever did. His record so far this season is 2-7. But that is definitely not indicative of how he has pitched this year. Most of his outings have been outstanding, but he has had little to no support and thus the record. He has kept the Pirates in most games that he has pitched, but sometimes there is a pitcher that the team just doesn't score runs for. This time it's Maholm, and it is unfortunate because he has pitched so well this season.

The 5th guy or wherever you wanted to slot him in the rotation was going to be Ross Ohlendorf. Ohlendorf has shown flashes of above average stuff in the past and has given the Pirates hope that they have found another quality arm to fill out the rotation. So much for that. Ohlendorf has continued to have arm problems and is currently on the 60 day disabled list. But, one's misfortune is another's fortune, or however that saying goes. Ohlendorf goes down and Jeff Karstens steps in as the short term solution. Karstens has done an amazing job. Every time he takes the mound the Pirates have had a chance to take the W.

Karstens came to the Pirates in 2008 as part of the Damaso Marte/Xavier Nady trade with the Yankees. He has had mixed success in previous attempts at starting but he may be solidifying his spot in the rotation for the rest of the year. His record is only 3-4 but his era is sub 3. The only drawback is that he usually doesn't get past the 7th inning, but I think Clint Hurdle would be happy if his pitchers could keep their eras in the 2s.

Let's look at that trade. Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte for Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, Jose Tabata, and Daniel McCutchen. That one seems to be working out well for the Pirates this year. 3 out of the 4 are on the Pirates and playing very well. The fourth was expected to be part of the rotation. That trade has worked out pretty well for the Pirates this year. Xavier Nady has been injured and bounced around a few teams, Damaso Marte remains with the Yankees, but is no stranger to the disabled list.

It is amazing that amongst this streak of losing that the Pirates have not managed to find some quality pitchers that could not even break the double digit win plateau. This year with the addition of Kevin Correia and the seasoning and tinkering of the pitchers they have acquired the Pirates seem to have a rotation that can keep them in games for 7 to 8 innings regularly. When the rotation can do that and keep the bullpen staff from extended duty it makes the bullpen that much fresher which helps them to be ready when needed. If these guys continue to improve that streak may be in danger.

These 5 guys are just a part of the pitching staff that has shown a lot of improvement from last year. In part 3 of this series I'll give analysis of the bullpen staff. The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking like they have the makings of a good team. It's great to be close to .500 and not out of the race at this point in the season, thanks in large part to the starting staff.


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