The Pirates' starting rotation entered 2019 with serious hype, and has somehow managed to not only justify that praise but suggest they could be even better than we thought. As a whole, Pirates starters rank second in MLB in ERA (2.24). They're third in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP, a more accurate way to measure performance based on strikeouts, walks and homers allowed) at 3.24, and tied with Tampa Bay for second with 2.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR, a measure of how valuable a player is compared to the kind of guy who's available on the waiver wire). It's not shocking to see Chris Archer, Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove succeeding.
But Jordan Lyles? The guy who entered 2019 with a career 5.28 ERA in more than 750 innings pitched? How in the name of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez does that guy have a 0.53 ERA? A scrapheap free agent sign over the winter (one year, $2.05 million), Lyles has carried over the gains that he made in late 2018 by changing his style. He is a totally different kind of pitcher than when he got lit up in Houston, Colorado and San Diego.