Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 preview: rotation improving

Charlie Morton looks to improve on a positive 2011. (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review)

The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates early-season run was buoyed by early starting pitching success. Now, heading into 2012 they will expect more of their starters while their young top prospects continue to develop.

Charlie Morton
2011: Arb Eligible ($4MM-5$MM)
2012: Arb Eligible

Morton turned himself into Roy Halladay light. Morton changed his entire motion to be more like Roy after watching tape of him all offseason. Morton started out 6-2 through June 4 but finished just 10-10. Maybe his hip was the problem, as Morton had surgery and is questionable for the start of next year. He gave up the fewest home runs per nine innings and seventh fewest walks in the league last season. 2011 was also the first season Morton threw over 100 innings at the major-league level.

Erik Bedard
2012: $4.5MM
2013: FA

The former 15-game winner pitched over 100 innings for the first time since 2007. This will be the first time in his career he pitches in the National League. The oft-injured Bedard will give the Pirates a veteran, left-handed presence in the rotation, and may prove to be a nice signing for the Pirates. Bedard will take over for Paul Maholm as the lone lefty. He could be someone to give the youngsters on the staff some guidance.

Kevin Correia
2012: $4MM
2013: FA

The 2011 All-Star won 11 before the break but just won one game the rest of the way. Corriea had his best season as a major leaguer, and the Pirates hope he can build off this in 2012. He didn’t pitch after August 19, but should be ready to start the season.

James McDonald
2012: $400M-$500M
2013: Arb Eligible

2011 was McDonald’s first full year as a starter and responded going a respectable 9-9. McDonald arguably has the best stuff of any pitcher amongst the starting staff. For him its a matter of control. He gave up 78 walks in 171 innings in 2011 but gave up 176 hits. McDonald needs to drop the amount of baserunners, but the Pirates really like his arm.

Jeff Karstens

2012: Arb Eligible ($3MM-$4MM)
2013: Arb Eligible

Karstens will probably have to fend off Brad Lincoln, Shairon Martis and maybe even 2011 first-round pick Gerrit Cole for this spot. Karstens started 26 games last year, and went a respectable 9-9 with a sub-four ERA. Karstens is the classic swingman type of pitcher who may even be used in the bullpen if he doesn’t make the rotation.

Overall, the Pirates rotation should be better in 2012 than 2011. The experience the pitchers got should help, as well as the fact that Jameson Tallion and Gerrit Cole should arrive soon to help. In a division that has gotten weaker and with an extra wild card spot, this rotation could keep the Pirates in contention.

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