In our final look at how players performed according to their pre-season projections, today we check out the revamped starters. The suits' eye seems pretty sharp with this collection, as only one guy fell noticeably below expectations.
Zach Duke (11-16, 4.06) ZiPS (7-11, 5.27) Chones (8-10, 4.66)
His finish to the season was bumpy; Duke, more than most starters, missed the D up the middle.
Ross Ohlendorf (11-10, 3.92) ZiPS (4-9, 5.60) Chones (4-3, 4.08)
ZiPS had him getting beat up as a starter; Chones had him doing OK as a spot starter. His strong kick after the All-Star break makes the Xavier Nady deal look like a stroke of genius.
Daniel McCutchen (1-2, 4.21) ZiPS (6-11, 5.65) Chones (6-8, 4.80)
Projected as bottom of the rotation guy, the other McCutchen did a good job of getting deep and keeping the club in his games.
Paul Maholm (8-9, 4.44) ZiPS (9-11, 4.53) Chones (9-10, 4.32)
Hindered by a bad knee and worse mechanics, Maholm is another guy who is hurt by soft defense.
Charlie Morton (5-9, 4.55) ZiPS (6-9, 5.28) Chones (4-3, 3.84)
Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, Morton showed promise as his innings piled up. He has the potential to be closer to his Chones' ERA rather than his ZiPS if he can avoid the killer inning.
Virgil Vasquez (2-5, 5.84) ZiPS (6-13, 5.81) Chones (7-10, 4.86)
He is what he is, which is a poor man's version of Jeff Karstens with less velocity.
Eric Hacker (0-0, 6.00) ZiPS (8-8, 4.81) Chones (6-6, 5.07)
Hacker was pitching as well as McCutchen at Indy until a late-season meltdown reduced his call-up time to a cup of coffee. Not likely to challenge for a spot on the MLB club, but worth stashing at Indy.
Kevin Hart (PIT 1-8, 6.92 COM 4-9, 5.44) ZiPS (5-8, 5.29) Chones (4-3, 3.93)
He's gonna be a project, but has the stuff to succeed if he ever learns to harness his pitches and throw strikes.
The Pirates pretty much got as much as could be expected from the staff this year, given its inexperience and the immobile middle infield. A couple of guys still have some upside, and putting innings under their belt is the doctor's order.
Duke and Maholm may be caught in the suits' drawing board scheme. The front office seem to emphasize OF defense more than IF leather, which fits in with their philosophy of power arm, fly-ball pitchers.
The biggest problem isn't ability, but rather that it's an incredibly shallow group, as shown after they shut down Ohlendorf. The only short-term possibility to challenge the starting five this year is Brad Lincoln, with Tim Alderson and maybe Donnie Veal on target for 2011 and Jeff Karstens as the fall-back. And Lincoln will almost assuredly start the year at Indy.
The bulk of the minor-league whiz kids are in A ball and still seasons away, and that's why we're mystified that the Pirates wouldn't at least look for an upper-end arm to help solidify an on-the-way, but not deep, rotation. Right now, they're one blown elbow or shoulder away from a nice young staff becoming a black hole.