Pittsburgh Pirates first half grades for pitching staff

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Francisco Liriano (8-3, 69.2 IP, 2.20 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 74 K, 27 BB)

Jul 5, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

As good as Locke has been, Liriano may be even better right now. It’s about time a Pirates offseason move paid off in a big way and it surely has with Liriano.

If he had enough innings to qualify, Liriano would rank third in baseball in ERA, right behind Locke. Almost every time he has taken the ball he has been outstanding this season. The most impressive part of Liriano’s performance is that his usually high walk total is down. He was a mystery after missing the first month of the season with a broken arm, but give Pirates’ pitching coach Ray Searage another hat tip for turning around another pitcher. Liriano should also be in consideration for the All-Star Game. Grade: A

Gerrit Cole (4-1, 29.2 IP, 3.94 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 16 K, 5 BB)

The Pirates needed a spark in early June and the former No. 1 overall pick gave them one. His strikeouts aren’t where you would think a guy that throws in the high 90’s would be and he has pitched primarily off his fastball so he has been hittable. But Cole has proven he has belonged and just like everyone that has taken the ball for this team, he gives the Bucs a chance to win every outing. Grade: B

Charlie Morton (1-1, 18.0 IP, 2.50 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 12 K, 6 BB)

You almost had to feel bad for Morton, who made his return the day after Cole made his MLB debut, but Morton hasn’t just returned but he seems back to his old self.

I have always been high on Morton when he is pounding the strike zone with his sinker and he has done that at times since his return. Unfortunately it seems like the Pirates have chosen to take days off with the gloves when Morton gets the ball. But he has been a ground ball machine and is throwing strikes for the most part. Pirates’ fans may still hate Morton because of his “great stuff,” but the Pirates can win with Morton on the mound. He could be in store for a pretty good second half. Grade: C+

Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 50.0  IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 29 K, 18 BB)

Every year there is a guy that practically comes out of nowhere and plays a big role in a team’s success. For this Pirates team that guy is Gomez.

An owner of a career ERA in the fives, Gomez has performed admirably in whatever role the Bucs have needed him. He may lose his starting spot for the time being and assume the long role in the pen, but make no mistake about it, Gomez has played a big role in the Pirates success. Grade: B

Brandon Crumpton (0-1, 15.2 IP, 4.02 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 11 K, 3 BB)

Crumpton was probably the 13th guy on the Pirates depth chart entering the season but he got the call when he Pirates needed an arm and gave the Bucs three decent starts. He wasn’t anything special, but he threw strikes and gave the team a chance to win in each of his outings. Grade: C

Phil Irwin also got a spot start this season and gets an incomplete.