Some questions about the Pirate pitching as it now stands:
Will the Bucs keep trawling the market for another starter? We suspect not actively; they were looking for a mid-pack lefty who is a sinker/power pitcher. Chris Capuano has been mentioned and fits, but without Hanny to use as a lure, it's unlikely LA will dump him at a price the Bucs are willing to pay. Joe Saunders has also been mentioned, but he doesn't really fit the profile the Pirates are looking for. There's a slim chance Frankie Liriano ends up a Pirate, depending on the yet undisclosed severity of his injury, but it will be at a reduced rate and based on an incentive-based deal. Wonder what Shawn Marcum is looking for nowadays...?
Will James McDonald bounce back? 2012 was an outlier finish for J-Mic. But the Bucs might be wise to keep a little closer watch on his pitch count, and James could help his own cause by being more aggressive and trusting his fielders rather than looking for the punchout. Control and count seem to be his keys.
Are there too many back end pitchers in the rotation? Could be - Kyle McPherson, Jeff Locke and Andy Oliver, the main suspects for the Bucco back end, have given no indication that they're ready to step into a mid-level spot yet. They're all young, and as a group like to nibble. As the old adage goes, work quick and throw strikes, and if they follow that saw, they could become dependable. That's a big if.
Is help on the horizon? For once, the answer seems to be yes. Gerrit Cole could optimistically be ready this year, and Charlie Morton, who the FO has enough confidence in to nurse through another injury, should be back by July. Jameson Taillon has a 2014 ETA, and we still believe that Justin Wilson has the stuff to be a mid-rotation arm if he can quit fighting the strike zone. Phil Irwin fits into the back-ender-in-the-making mold. A couple more guys, notably Clay Holmes, Nick Kingham and Luis Heredia, will help keep the pipeline flowing.
Are Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon enough at the back end of the pen? It would seem, by their peripherals, that they should hold up. If not, Bryan Morris is a good late inning candidate to step into their spot, with Victor Black not too very far away.
The rest of the bullpen? It should be fine; the Bucs have made a slight change of direction by going after young fringe guys via minor deals than reeling in undervalued pitchers on the market. That's a more cost friendly direction, and if there's one thing the management has shown a good eye for evaluating during their tenure, it's relievers. Chris Leroux and Zach Stewart are swing men, along with Tony Watson, Jared Hughes, and Vin Mazzaro as bridge pitchers looking for 2013 spots.