View Full Version : Pirates Left Handed Starting Pitchers

02-21-2009, 01:29 AM
The Pirates actually have very few people worth discussing here. There are only three lefties with a chance to makethe rotation (Maholm, Gorzelanny, Duke). I will also include a fourth, Dumatrait, who is more than likely a candidate for the long-relief spot. I will also post the depth chart.

Paul Maholm: The only pitcher who is a lock to make the starting rotation. Maholm was the most consistent pitcher on the Pirates staff last year and will likely be the opening day starter. Much about Maholm's soldi 2008 is know but what is often overlooked is that Maholm also had a strong finish to the 2007 season. He posted ERAs of 3.74, 3.72, 3.60 in the months of June, July and August respectively. If you break down Maholm last year you will have a similar finding he had an ERA of 5.11 at the end of May but the rest of the way he shaved two runs off and had a 3.11 ERA. Mahom's early day with the Pirates were filled with struggles but as you can see he has come on as of late. His improvement has been credited to great conditioning and becoming a groundball pitcher. This is shown by his 3.10 ground ball to fly ball ratio last year. For Maholm's career he has proven to be much much more effective against lefties (OPS of 810 to righties and OPS of 580 to lefties). Just a few more interesting stats on Maholm and then we will move on: last year he was sensational against lefties holding them to an average of .183 and for his career he has pitched much better at PNC than the road (3.57 at home, 5.14 on road). Maholm is a control pitcher who gets few strikeout but doesnt walk alot of batter either. His fastball is normally in the high 80's and the rest of his stuff is probably just average. Maholm does have one exceptional skill though, he has a great pickoff move. For Maholm to continue his success he must maintain his control, keep getting ground balls, and get the good defense he did last year (He had the lowest BABIP of any Pirate starter). His line was 3.71(ERA)/1.28(WHIP)/6.06(K/9)/.263(OAVG)/2.75(BB/9).

Zach Duke: For some reason or another Duke is one of the top candidates to earn a rotation spot. In my opinion he should definately have a chance but should not be a favorite. When Duke made the major leagues he was simply sensational but has shown little sign of that potential since. In 2005 when he debuted he went 8-2 and had an ERA 1.81 and if I remember correctly he out dueled Greg Maddux on two seperate occasions (both low scoring games). The only good thing that can be said about Zach Duke's 2008 season is that it was an improvement from his 2007 season when he was fighting an elbow injury. If Duke can regain his 2005 form he can still be a very effective pitcher but based on what has been seen of him since he seems to be destined to be a #5 starter or even an emergency starter who spends most of his time in AAA. Duke's fastball is similar to Maholms around the high 80's and topping out at about 91-92. Duke's best pitch may be his curveball but all of his pitches are ineffective if he is unable to show the great control he has. Duke is the type of pitcher who always gives up a lot of hits but luckaly for the Pirates last year he was able to escape many sticky situations. If I am remembering correctly he once pitched six shut out innings last year while stranding 12 base runners (dont quote me on that). Since Duke's makeup is similar to Maholm he needs similar conditions to be successful, low walk rate, good control, more ground balls and good defense. Duke like Maholm has a good pickoff move. His line last year was 4.82 /1.50 /4.23 /.304 /2.29 (same order as Maholm). Duke will likely be the Pirates 3rd or 4th starter.

Tom Gorzellany: Gorzy was expected to be an anchor for the Pirates staff last year but had a horrible season and even ended uo getting demoted to AAA. Gorzelanny has always been a source of argument amongst Pirate fans: In spring training 2007 Gorzelanny was basically guaranteed a spot in the rotation, however he pitched so poorly during the spring that many Pirate fans were clamoring for Sean Burnett to take his spot in the starting rotation. Last year Gorzelanny became the face of Huntingdon's and Coonley's "Accountability". He was demoted to AAA and despite major injuries to the rest of the staff was not recalled. Gorzy had once showed good velocity pitching in the mid 90's but last year his speed dropped into the high 80's. Gorzelanny being a fly-ball pitcher has a tendency to give up too many home run balls. After being demoted Gorzy dominated at the AAA level posting an ERA of 2.06 and having a WHIP under 1. I spoke of his fatball but his best pitch s his changeup which is of course better complimated by a 93 moh fastball than by an 87 one. Gorzelanny's line last year for the Pirates was 6.66/1.80/5.72/.293/5.98. That ERA is certainly fitting as it was him and Sneel who doomed the Pirate's season. The Pirates are hopeful that last year was just an abberation and that Gorzy will return to his 2007 form. Gorzy will have to earn a spot on the Pirates rotation which in my opinion he will do. It is worth noting though that he has one option left.

Phil Dumatrait: Last year the Pirates claimed Dumatrait off waivers from the Reds. He started last year in the pen as the long man and proved to be very good. Later on he was given a chance to start(after Morris was released) and he was the Pirates second most consistent starter. Unfortunately a shoulder inury derailed his season . His K and walk ratios were not great last year but his performance were definately solid save a few starts before he went on the DL. Dumatrait will be given a chance to start but in my opinion would be better served as a long relief option. Last year he had a 3.92 ERA as a reliever. It must be noted that he is still quite young at only 27 years old. The most interesting splits for Dumatrait comes on his pitch count and reaffirms my velief in him being a reliever. Opponets had an OPS of .719 against him during his first 50 pitches, an OPS of .828 for his next 25 and an OPS of .928 for the next 25. He rarely threw over 100 pitches so the rest doesnt really matter. His line last year was 5.26/ 1.58/ 5.95/ 271/ 4.81. It must be noted that his three starts before going on the DL skewed those numbers slightly. ERA in relief - 3.92, ERA in first eight starts - 3.22. Dumatrait if healthy will be given a chance to be either a starter or long reliever.

Those are really the only lefties worth mentioning. No other lefty has basically any chance of making the Pirates as a starting pitcher. I will disucss the relievers later.

Organiztional Depth Chart (All Starters)
MLB: Maholm, Snell, Gorzy, Duke, Karstens, Ohlendorf, Dumatrait, Barthmaier
AAA: McCutchen, Herrera, Vasquez, Slocum, Smith, Powell, Davis, Taubenheim, Hankins, Mildren
AA: Lincoln, Watson, Moskos, Hughes, Crotta, Hamman, Hill
A+: Morris, Wlker, Clapp, de los Santos, McSwain, Molleken, Linares
A: Diaz, Wilson, Oliver, McPherson, Leach, Owens, Rodriguez, Aguirre, Cox, Aguero
Short Season: Guerrero, Santos, Bankston, Kelly, Pereira, Holden, Aure, Alvarado, Paulino, Foster, Foust
Rookie: Miller, Esparza, Giblin, Nunez

Again just use this as a rough guide and adjust when necessary. Sorry for the delay but here it is. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments.

* Note, sorry for any misspellings.

02-21-2009, 09:16 PM
I expect Duke and Gorzey to get spots for the start of the season just because they can log innings, which is useful in a weak rotation. However I could see BOTH McCutchen and Lincoln reaching the big leagues and starting this year for the Pirates. At the very least, both should get shots to be in the opening day rotation in 2010

02-22-2009, 01:53 AM
I hope McCutchen and Lincoln both get a shot. They will both be covered during the prospect post. Those are 2 of very few names worth mentioning.

02-22-2009, 11:41 AM
I expect Duke and Gorzey to get spots for the start of the season just because they can log innings, which is useful in a weak rotation. However I could see BOTH McCutchen and Lincoln reaching the big leagues and starting this year for the Pirates. At the very least, both should get shots to be in the opening day rotation in 2010

That would be great if McCutchen and Lincoln can move up here quickly, especially Lincoln.

02-22-2009, 12:13 PM
Seeing whether Lincoln starts at AA or goes back to Hi-A will be a telling sign of how quickly they want him to reach the big club. They may not want to rush him seeing as he is one of the few promising pitching specs. Nonetheless he is 23 (24 in May) and should reach AA by season's end at the very least, with a decent chance at moving to AAA. McCutchen will be the first guy called up if one of the top 5 goes down or don't perform IMO

02-26-2009, 11:06 AM
I'm not sure if Malholm won't go the way of Snell, Duke and Gorzellany. Although there were times when these 3 pitched horribly there were many more times the team behind them, let them down. I think that Duke was the victim of more defensive errors than any other pitcher during his breakout year the pirates were among the leaders in fielding percentage while the last couple of years they were among the worst. With Snell being a close second. The point is that all 3 entered a season after their "breakout season" and disappointed some of it their fault and alot of it not. Since with the exception of Snell none of our pitchers are strikeout type pitchers the addition of a real infield instructor may be the best help for our pitching staff.

02-26-2009, 04:13 PM
I think it very possible Maholm will suffer a setback. but I expect to remain pretty steady.

say 11 or 12 wins and an ERA around 3.5 (give or take .3 or so). not spectacular but solid.

03-04-2009, 04:46 PM
I think the entire staff should improve for several reasons they have a pitching coach who has coached some of the best arms in the AL. Another reason is that the fielding behind them can't get any worse than it has been the past couple of years. I think Perry Hill although the infield instructor will have alot to do in improving our starting pitching by improving the fielding behind them.