Projecting the Pirates Rotation for 2023

The Pirates rotation saw some promising performances last season from the likes of young hurlers Mitch Keller and Roansy Contreras, as well as veteran lefty José Quintana. On the other hand, the likes of Bryse Wilson and Zach Thompson both posted ERAs north of 5.00 for a Pirates team that lost 100 games in 2022. So, will the Pirates rotation look much different for 2023? Let’s go over Pittsburgh’s options.

Related: Projecting the Padres Rotation for 2023

A Look at the Pirates Rotation Options for 2023

  1. RHP Mitch Keller (5-12, 3.91 ERA, 7.8 K/9 in 2022)
  2. RHP JT Brubaker (3-12, 4.69 ERA, 9.2 K/9)
  3. LHP Rich Hill (8-7, 4.27 ERA, 7.9 K/9)
  4. RHP Roansy Contreras (5-5, 3.79 ERA, 8.1 K/9)
  5. RHP Luis Ortiz (0-2, 4.50 ERA, 9.6 K/9)

We’ll start off this look with RHP Mitch Keller, who led all Pirates pitchers in innings pitched (159) last season. Keller hasn’t missed as many bats in his MLB career thus far, and has had problems with command at times. The 2022 season was Keller’s most complete to date, as he limited the walks all while effectively using a repertoire that includes a mid-90s fastball, slider, and curveball.

Another arm set to return to Pittsburgh for 2023 is JT Brubaker. Like Keller, Brubaker did have his best season in the Majors to date in what’s been an uneven start to his career thus far. The 29-year-old has struck out 324 batters over 315.2 career innings, but does own a career ERA of 4.99.

One new name for the Pirates rotation is LHP Rich Hill, who signed with Pittsburgh this winter on a one-year deal. Hill recorded an above-average Hard Hit% rate (34.0%) yet again in 2022, a testament to how well the lefty has adjusted over the years. The 42-year-old still flashed a very strong curveball that’s hard to pick up with Boston, in what has become the key to Hill’s longevity.

Also set to be a part of the Pirates rotation is RHP Roansy Contreras. Contreras posted a respectable 3.79 ERA and above-average Whiff% (27.5%) and Chase% (32.5%) rates last season, thanks to a hard fastball and two solid breaking balls. The 23-year-old, acquired from the Yankees in January 2021, is one of the more interesting names in this rotation.

Contreras could very well be joined in the Pirates rotation by fellow right-hander Luis Ortiz, who impressed in a brief look last September. Ortiz struck out 17 over 16 innings for the Pirates, and showed off an explosive fastball that sat in the upper-90s and a hard slider.

It’s very possible that Ortiz could start the 2023 season in Pittsburgh. If not, a pitcher like Vince Velasquez or Johan Oviedo could slot in the fifth slot.