Link: Estimating Future Pirate Contract Extensions
“How will the Pirates replace the 191 innings and 209 strikeouts they got from A.J. Burnett last year?”
That warning question was asked well in advance of the day that Burnett signed a $16 million deal to pitch for the Phillies this year. It was asked even before he announced that he would pitch in 2014, rather than retire. In fact, the question started being asked at about 11:00 pm, Occtober 9, 2014, immediately after the Pirates lost the final game of the National League Divisional Series to the Cardinals.
How will the Pirates replace A.J.’s 191 innings and 209 strikeouts?
Well, those numbers are now down to 185 and 199.
On Opening Day of 2013, Francisco Liriano was on the disabled list. And he would remain there until May 11.
On Opening Day 2014, while A.J. Burnett was watching Cliff Lee start the Phillies first game, Francisco Liriano threw six shutout innings and struck out ten Chicago Cubs.
The A.J. innings and strikeouts count will come down further on Wednesday. That games starter, Charlie Morton, was still recovering from Tommy John surgery at this time last year. He didn’t make his first appearance with the Pirates until June 13.
Game 3 starter, Wandy Rodriguez, only pitched 62.2 innings last year. And Game 4 starter, Gerrit Cole, didn’t make his major league debut until June 11.
If those four starters can pitch like they did last year and stay healthy, they will go a long way toward making up for what the Pirates lost when Burnett signed with the Phillies.
But the Pirates don’t need Liriano (3.12 xFIP), Morton (3.69), Rodriguez (4.00), and Cole (3.14) to replace Burnett’s innings, strikeouts, and 2.92 xFIP. And the Pirates don’t need fifth starter Edinson Volquez (4.07), sixth starter Jeff Locke (4.19), seventh starter Brandon Cumpton (3.40), and the bullpen to combine to make up for the innings, Ks, and xFIP that they lost when Burnett left.
The Pirates need to make up for the 4.0 Wins Above Replacement level that they lost when Burnett left. And they have a full 40-man roster that they can use to do that.