Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Mlb-rays-twins-jul
With pitchers and catchers reporting today, and Spring Training starting up this week, we will be previewing the position battles to follow throughout the Spring. To keep track of the players who are in camp, and the updated status of each position battle, check out the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Tracker. The Pirates have done a lot since the trade deadline to address the starting rotation. They acquired Wandy Rodriguez at the trade deadline, gave Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson a look in September, and added Francisco Liriano, Jonathan Sanchez and a few other depth options over the off-season. The top three spots in the rotation will be held by A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, and James McDonald. That leaves several of the above pitchers fighting for the final two spots. Contenders: Jeff Karstens, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke, Kyle McPherson, Jonathan Sanchez Francisco Liriano - If Liriano is healthy for Opening Day, he will get one of the open spots in the rotation. That’s not a guarantee. Tom Singer reports that it could be a month before Liriano steps on a mound. Last year we saw A.J. Burnett delayed at the start of Spring Training, and he had to start the 2012 season on the 15-day disabled list. Liriano would be unlikely to make the Opening Day roster if he can’t get on the mound earlier. Jeff Locke will be battling for a rotation spot in Spring Training. Jeff Locke/Kyle McPherson - I think these two will compete for the final spot in the rotation, regardless of whether Liriano is healthy. Locke is ready for the majors, and has the upside of a number four starter. He’s appeared in the majors in each of the last two seasons, but both times came at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how he performs with some experience under his belt, and while he’s fresh at the start of the year, rather than after he pitches a full season in Triple-A. McPherson made a few starts in Triple-A last year, then three starts in the majors. He had some good results, but might need a bit more time in Triple-A. He’s also dealt with shoulder issues over the last year. The most recent issue came in the Dominican Winter League. He was throwing off a mound yesterday, so his health shouldn’t be an issue at this point. McPherson has more upside than Locke, but might have a bit more to prove in Triple-A. Jeff Karstens - The Pirates non-tendered Karstens earlier in the off-season, then brought him back in January on a one year deal. The right-hander has been good when healthy, but has had issues staying healthy. Last year he made 15 starts and pitched 90 innings. I think that would be the expected level for his 2013 performance. Anything over 15 starts or 90 innings would be a bonus. Karstens could reach those totals by serving as a 6th starter, injury replacement, or a spot starter throughout the year. I could see him stepping in the rotation for a few turns at the start of the year if Liriano starts off on the disabled list. Jonathan Sanchez - The Pirates added Sanchez on a minor league deal last week. He’s coming off a horrible season in which he had issues with biceps tendonitis. He was a good pitcher the previous three seasons. If he’s beyond the injury, and can return to the 2009-2011 numbers, he’d provide a lot of value under a minor league deal. I’d expect him to go to Triple-A to start the year, where he can prove that he’s beyond his 2012 struggles. If he can do that, he’d emerge as a top candidate to step into the rotation when the Pirates need an extra starter. Projected Rotation: A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jeff Locke, Jeff Karstens (Francisco Liriano 15-day DL)
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

Six teams have done background work on Adrian Peterson

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

Wade Phillips is the best coordinator hire this offseason

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Bill Belichick gives understated scouting report of Tom Brady

Five teams that failed to improve this offseason

Steelers fans were more profane on social media

Seahawks praise Tom Brady's trash-talking ability

Richard Sherman's girlfriend talks possible Super Bowl baby

DeMarco Murray: I don't pay attention to being replaced

Could Katy Perry and Russell Wilson be dating?

The Media isn't the villain we deserve, but it's the one we need

Are LeBron and the Cavs ready to make a run?

The Super Bowl and the things that can't be controlled

DeMarcus Cousins calls out writer for five-year-old tweet

What if Drew Bledsoe didn't get injured in 2001?

Who should make up the 2015 Hall of Fame class

WATCH: Porn sounds played during Predators broadcast

Five worst teams to win a Super Bowl

Matt Damon, Ben Affleck defend Patriots on Kimmel

Watch: John Oliver tackles the Super Bowl

The Washington Redskins and their forgotten dynasty

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Super Bowl: Things you can't control

LeBron and the Cavs are ready to make a run

Cousins calls out writer's old tweet

Seahawks praise Brady's trash-talk

Who should be in 2015 HOF class

Five potential Super Bowl XLIX heroes

Rex Ryan downplays Deflategate

Brady hopes Manning comes back

The worst Super Bowl commercials of all-time

SB anthem, halftime performers through the years

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.