Even though it's just a month into the season, there's no denying that the Pittsburgh Pirates are enjoying a dramatic turnaround from just a year ago. The current team is hungrier than last year and anxious to show what it's made of. Nowhere is this more evident than the pitching staff, thanks to a change in pitching coaches.
Joe Kerrigan: Good for Boston, wrong for Pittsburgh.
Joe Kerrigan took over from Jim Colborn following the 2008 campaign in which the Pirates finished dead last in the NL in ERA with a 5.08 mark. Colborn also took the heat for tinkering with Zack Duke's mechanics after a magical rookie season in 2005. Colborn also suffered a much-publicized dugout blowup with shortstop Jack Wilson during a game in 2008.
Ray Searage, teacher-father figure.
Kerrigan improved the staff ERA to third worst in the NL in 2009. In 2010, the staff was again worst in the National League in ERA, with a 5.00 mark. Enter Ray Searage, a veteran of seven big league seasons as a reliever in both leagues and former pitching coach with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians.
Daniel McCutchen: paying big dividends this year.
In 2010, Evan Meek had the lowest ERA on the staff at 2.14 in 70 appearances. Thus far, Daniel McCutchen is the team best; he's unscored upon in eight outings and 11 innings pitched. Last season, McCutchen finished with a 6.12 ERA to go with two wins and five losses in 28 appearances.
Joel Hanrahan, the Emperor of Flame.
Closer Joel Hanrahan was 4-1 with a 3.62 ERA a year ago. Now, he's 0-1, with a 1.69 ERA, 13 Ks in 15 appearances and routinely lighting up the radar gun with his three-digit velocity.
Chris Resop was 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 23 combined appearances with Atlanta and Pittsburgh. This season, he's 1-0 with a 1.76 ERA in 13 games. To be fair, Resop got shelled in his only appearance for the Braves in 2010. He's been a terrific find for the Pirates so far.
Kevin Correia, the new Pirate workhorse starter.
Kevin Correia leads all starters with a 4-2 mark and a 2.90 ERA in seven starts. Last year, Correia was 10-10 for the Padres, with a 5.40 ERA in 28 games. He has been a huge addition to the rotation.
Charlie Morton - definitely worth his salt this season.
Another ex-Brave, Charlie Morton has also been most impressive this season. Charlie went 5-9 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 starts after being acquired in the trade that sent Nate McClouth to Atlanta. Last year, Morton was simply horrendous at 2-12, with a 7.57 ERA (including a ERA over 12.00 at one point) in 17 starts.
Charlie still needs to sharpen his control, having walked 23 enemy hitters in 38.1 innings. However, he has also rung up 19 Ks along the way. He has also been resilient in battling back after a few rough outings.
Daniel Moskos, the newest addition to the staff.
Former Clemson fireballer Daniel Moskos, a number one draft choice in 2007, has found his way to the majors. He was 0-0 at Indianapolis, with a 1.69 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in eight games. He is taking the place of the injured Evan Meek, but if he continues his lights-out work, he'll be a keeper when Meek returns.
Clint Hurdle, hoping to give Pirate fans much to smile about this season.
Clint Hurdle is helping usher in a new era of Pirate baseball in Pittsburgh. It all starts with a winning attitude and killer confidence. Good pitching hasn't been seen for a long time in Pittsburgh. But, this season, fans are getting a little taste of what they've missed. More strong arms are making their way through the farm system, and it could mean a World Series in Pittsburgh in the foreseeable future.