Nothing has been more surprisingly pleasant this year than watching the Pirates' starting pitchers go out and more or less compete every night. It hasn't all been pretty, but how can you not acknowledge the progress the staff has made?
Jeff Karstens is having a career year. Both of his nine wins and 3.12 ERA are career-bests. He may not be an overpowering force, but Karstens does as good a job as anyone moving the batter's eye level with different velocities and locations. It's why he's had such great success.
Younger Charlie Morton has been great, too. With a re-worked delivery, Morton has become a ground ball machine, able to now throw a highly effective, heavy sinker. As long as Morton doesn't elevate the ball and works on his secondary breaking pitches, his growth should continue. I think he could be a very good pitcher in a few short years.
Karstens and Morton aren't even the top of the rotation guys, but they've probably had the most success player-development wise.
With as much young pitching talent the Pirates have been acquiring the last few years via the draft and international signings, some or all of the Pirates' rotation will change. If the Pirates are able to use a few of those pieces such as Brad Lincoln, Ross Ohlendorf or Charlie Morton to get a proven bat in the lineup, they might prove to be even more valuable.
It's good to have the problem of too much pitching and I anxiously look forward to seeing how this rotation finishes off their season.
Follow me on Twitter @mcfarlands412 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org