The 2019 Pirates were supposed to be driven by high-quality starting pitching and high-leverage relief aces. Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Chris Archer fronted a rotation that some considered to be the class of the National League, certainly the Central Division. Felipe Vazquez and Keone Kela were there to slam the door shut in the late frames. If the offense could just manage to scrape together three or four runs, the thinking went, the Pirates would be quasi-contenders.
Instead, the pitching staff has been ravaged by injuries and the replacements have performed about as well as Bugs Bunny did against the Gas House Gorillas. Taillon and Williams are on the IL, with Williams nearing a return and the outlook seemingly more bleak for Taillon. Archer has underachieved, and Joe Musgrove has been hittable since a superb April. Jordan Lyles, the early-season ace, started to fade recently and was just placed on the IL with a hamstring problem. Vazquez has held up his end of the bargain in the bullpen (as have Kyle Crick and Francisco Liriano), but Kela is still sidelined with a shoulder ailment. Richard Rodriguezhas morphed back into a pumpkin. And the rest of the bullpen? Full of rookies and DuRapaus and Hartliebs who should be in Triple-A.
You know that the pitching has been bad. But just how bad? Let's take a look at where the 2019 Pirates rank in the annals of the franchise's all-time worst pitching staffs.