The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to a six man rotation. Part of the move is meant to give their starters some rest. The other part is to get Kevin Correia in to the rotation. Moving to a six man rotation isn’t a bad thing, but there are a few things the Pirates could do to make the switch better.
First, giving all of the starters an extra day of rest makes sense for everyone…except for A.J. Burnett. With the exception of tonight, Burnett has been the ace of the staff. You want him starting as often as possible. In a regular five man rotation, Burnett would have nine more starts this year. In a six man rotation, he makes eight more starts this year. You’re taking a start away from your best starter this year, all to get Kevin Correia back in the rotation. And it’s not like Burnett needs the reduction in innings. He’s shown that he can handle a workload around 200 innings, plus playoffs.
Then there’s the issue of Correia. I’ve long felt that Correia is a good 4th/5th starter option in a bad rotation, and a good 5th/6th starter in a good rotation. The Pirates have had a good rotation this year. And after the trade for Wandy Rodriguez, the rotation was good enough to push Correia to the bullpen. Correia is good enough to start, but I’m not sure he’s good enough to make changes to the rotation and to add a spot just to keep him as a starter.
If I had to pick a sixth starter, Correia wouldn’t be my first choice. I’d go with Jeff Locke, who not only can be a better starter than Correia right now, but is also under control for six more years. Correia is gone after the season. I’d also put Chris Leroux and Justin Wilson ahead of Correia for sixth starting options.
Next is James McDonald. He’s been struggling in the second half, and I don’t think the answer is an extra day of rest. I think McDonald needs some time off. Move him to the bullpen for a start or two, and bring in Correia. The rotation is much better when they’ve got the first half McDonald, who looked like a legitimate ace.
I don’t think there’s a huge need for a six man rotation. There shouldn’t be a push to get Correia in the rotation, so that eliminates one need. I could see the argument for giving guys added rest. However, I don’t think a blanket strategy should be applied in this situation. Burnett should continue going on normal rest, while McDonald seems to need more than just an extra day of rest. And if the Pirates want to put someone else in the rotation, they’ve got better options than Correia, with Jeff Locke leading the way.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates lost 9-8 to the Padres.
**Pirates Notebook: Burnett Shows Two Sides; Velocity Returns for Grilli.
**Prospect Watch: Good Starts From Leroux and Glasnow, Sanchez Hits 7th Homer.