Pittsburgh Pirates: What a Difference a Year Makes

John QuayleCorrespondent IMay 4, 2011

Pittsburgh Pirates: What a Difference a Year Makes

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    PITTSBURGH - APRIL 05: Fans head into PNC Park prior to Pittsburgh Pirates playing the Los Angeles Dodgers before the Home Opener for the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 5, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    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, Pitching Coach

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    Joe Kerrigan: Good for Boston, wrong for Pittsburgh.
    Joe Kerrigan: Good for Boston, wrong for Pittsburgh.Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    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.

New Pitching Coach, Ray Searage

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    Ray Searage, teacher-father figure.
    Ray Searage, teacher-father figure.J. Meric/Getty Images

    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, Reliever

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    Daniel McCutchen: paying big dividends this year.
    Daniel McCutchen: paying big dividends this year.J. Meric/Getty Images

    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, Closer

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    Joel Hanrahan, the Emperor of Flame.
    Joel Hanrahan, the Emperor of Flame.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    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, Reliever

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    KISSIMMEE, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Chris Resop #48 of the Atlanta Braves poses during Photo Day on February 25, 2008 at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    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, Starting Pitcher

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    Kevin Correia, the new Pirate workhorse starter.
    Kevin Correia, the new Pirate workhorse starter.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    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, Starting Pitcher

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    Charlie Morton - definitely worth his salt this season.
    Charlie Morton - definitely worth his salt this season.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    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, Reliever

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    Daniel Moskos, the newest addition to the staff.
    Daniel Moskos, the newest addition to the staff.J. Meric/Getty Images

    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, Manager

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    Clint Hurdle, hoping to give Pirate fans much to smile about this season.
    Clint Hurdle, hoping to give Pirate fans much to smile about this season.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    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.