Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable – 2009 Rotation

The Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable is a weekly collaboration of Pirates writers from around the internet. Thank you to all of the authors that have contributed to this post. To read more of their work, please click on the link next to each name. If you would like to submit a question to our panel, please e-mail me here.
Question:
Which pitchers do you expect to see in the Pirates’ 2009 starting rotation?

Mike from Hyzdu Headquarters
When looking forward to the 2009 pitching there are clearly many, many more options next year than there were this past spring, when it looked set in stone at the end of the previous season. The way things are shaping up in September, it seems as though it will be the audition for the rotation next year. Here is how I think it will shake out. (The starters are listed mainly in order of my certainty to make it, not what spot they’ll take.)
Paul Maholm – Based on what he had done this year, it is a no brainer.
Ian Snell – That contract they gave him in the offseason pretty much guarantees that they will run him out there in the rotation.
Jeff Karstens – His run of solid pitching since his acquisition, I would think allows him a spot in the rotation. He seems to me to be a Jeff Suppan type guy. Plug him into the rotation and he won’t provide you with too many worries.
Ross Ohlendorf – It seems from the day we traded for him they wanted him to BE a starter. Management must think very highly of his prospects as a starter and I will believe he will be given every chance at a spot in the rotation.
Tom Gorzelanny – This will be in my opinion the most highly competitive spot. You will have Gorzelanny, Duke, Dumatrait, Daniel McCutchen, Barthmaier, and some others competing for this spot. I would say that they would seek another lefty for the rotation, so that leaves Duke, Gorzo, and Dumatrait, who is coming off an injury, so I’d say he is out. Between Duke and Gorzo it will be a tough draw, both have positives, negative, and question marks. I’ll go with Gorzo.
We have plenty of options on the table now to work with a multitude of guys. It is a far sight better than when we were ‘depending’ on Matt Morris.
Randy Linville from Pittsburgh Lumber Co.
The 2009 Pirates rotation will be Tom Gorzelanny, Paul Maholm, Ian Snell, Jeff Karstens and a jump ball. Zach Duke’s performance has put him in the position of having to earn his spot in the rotation in 2009. If Snell has a poor 2009, he will be on the hot seat for 2010.
Jesse from Raise the Jolly Roger!
1. Maholm
2. Snell
3. Gorzelanny
4. Karstens
5. Ohlendorf
Andy Smith from Bugs and Cranks
If I had to assign the 2009 rotation today, my guess is it would look like this:
1) Paul Maholm
2) Ian Snell
3) Jeff Karstens
4) Tom Gorzelanny
5) Dan McCutchen
I would say the top three are definitely in the rotation, although you could easily flip Snell and Karstens depending on who pitches better down the stretch and in the spring next year. Obviously, the big absence with these five is Zach Duke, a prediction that would have seemed unconscionable just three years ago. I imagine he’ll compete with McCutchen and Gorzelanny for the fourth and fifth spots, but he’d probably have to blow the staff away to get the nod given his performance the last two seasons. I also suppose it’s possible the front office could bring in a veteran arm to compete, but given the near-ready glut of pitchers acquired at the deadline this year, I think the younger cheaper internal options seem like a better bet.
Matt Bandi from Pittsburgh Lumber Co.
The only lock for next years rotation is Paul Maholm. I think Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny are also pretty likely to be there, and I expect Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf to finish out the rotation. Zach Dukes career is heading down the long reliever/sixth starter route, and I think he will fill that role next year.
Obviously, the most exciting aspect of the 2009 pitching will be the starting depth. I doubt we will see a repeat of this season, when we would often send a guy out to start simply because there was nobody else left. If any of the five starters above struggles or goes down with an injury, there will be plenty of options to turn to. Duke, Phil Dumatrait, Ty Taubenheim and Jason Davis should prove to be warm bodies that could make a start and give the team a chance to win. Depending on their progression, Jimmy Barthmaier and Daniel McCutchen could also be in the rotation mix at some point next season.
Also, keep in mind that Neal Huntington will have the entire offseason to bring in more talent. I am pretty optimistic about the 2009 pitching staff.

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