Pittsburgh Pirates Pitchers: 2015 Team Preview

Aug 20, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

[table id=1347 /]

Gerrit Cole throws absolute fire, but I am not entirely confident he will take the next step in 2015.  I was encouraged by his K-BB% going from 15.4% to 17.2% and his LD% rate plummeting from 24.8% to 19%, but it seemed like Cole’s development was fairly lateral from 2013 to 2014.  His SIERA dropped, but his FIP and xFIP rose.  His O-Swing% slightly dropped, but the good news was that his contact% fell 2% also.

Overall, I think Gerrit Cole could be a fantasy SP3 this year, but I understand there is still plenty of time for the top pick of the 2011 draft to grow.  I feel pretty confident that Cole will eventually be a frontline starter, and I hope that Jameson Taillon joins him one day.  In the meantime, Cole will need to learn to get by on more than his plus fastball.

Mark Melancon has produced back-to-back seasons of a sub 2.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP after his disaster of a year with the Red Sox in 2012.  The closer of the Pirates essentially stopped walking batters and made hitters chase bad pitches on a much more frequent basis.  Mark Melancon posted an O-Swing% of 41.3% in 2013 and 40.1% in 2014.  His previous career high was 31.7% with the Astros.  Quite simply, Melancon became an insanely more effective pitcher and turned into a top 10 closer.

Tanner Bell of Smart Fantasy Baseball has created all of the projections seen in this post.  You can read about how he develops his projections here.  His projections are invaluable to this site.  You can also visit his site at www.smartfantasybaseball.com.