Post-Gazette writer Jenn Menendez breaks down the rest of the rotation with which the Pirates will open the season:
Liriano went 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA with 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings last season and was the reclamation story of the National League, winning its Comeback Player of the Year award. The slider is his most devastating pitch, but was effective only after finding sharper fastball command. Liriano is tabbed the opening day starter, and will be charged with stringing together the first strong back-to-back seasons of his career.
The prized sinker-baller produced a 62.9 percent groundball rate, the best in the major leagues for pitchers who threw 100 or more innings. He finished with a 3.26 ERA in 116 innings but can struggle against heavy left-handed lineups. Morton scored a three-year $21 million deal in the offseason. He is 30 with three surgeries in his past, but if he stays healthy -- and there are no signs of problems -- he will be worth every penny.
Rodriguez made just 12 starts in 2013 before a series of setbacks from a left forearm injury shut him down. His fastball is not overwhelming, but he has a curveball that can find both sides of the plate, and an effective changeup. The Pirates need Rodriguez to be healthy and could use the close to 30 starts and 200 innings he provided from 2009-12. He is the second-highest paid player on the payroll.
Edinson Volquez or Jeff Locke
GM Neal Huntington has insisted Volquez will be in his starting rotation, but his fastball command was erratic in spring training. That means Locke is a possibility to start in the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Locke was slowed in spring training with a minor right side injury but appears on track. Volquez, who has not had a good season since making the All-Star game in 2008, is a project for the team.