Edinson Volquez and his 1.08 Sept ERA takes the hill among a plethora of skeptics
Last winter the Pirates did not pursue AJ Burnett whose last start of the 2013 season was a vivid reminder of what 2014 might be if they choose that path once again. Instead the Pirates picked up reclamation project Edinson Volquez who quietly had his best year since his 24-year-old rookie season.
AJ Burnett was given a $15,000,000 contract by the Phillies to be the worst starting pitcher on their team. Edinson Volquez was given $5,000,000 to fill his shoes, and he did exactly what very few baseball people felt he could do. A year ago it would have sounded like a panic move to consider using Volquez in the most important Pirate game of 2014, but maybe Volquez has earned it?
Volquez has pitched at least six innings his last six starts. Four times he has gone at least seven innings. In those six starts he has given up a total of only five earned runs. In forty one innings. It looks like a daunting task going against one of the elite hurlers in the NL, but I’m not about to undersell the Pirates at home, even against Madison Bumgarner. For one game it is very possible that Edinson could fulfill his role as a Giant killer.
The Pirates blew past the over/under on wins this season mainly because of two unheralded additions to the 2014 team. One was of course Edinson Volquez. The other was the purchase of Vance Worley from the misbegotten Twins organization. Worley would go onto to post the best ERA+ of any Pirate starter, and give them major important innings, while their ace in training Gerritt Cole was injured. Both moves have proven to be brilliant for 2014, and allowed the small payroll Pirates a chance for a meaningful postseason.
If Volquez can vanquish Bumgarner, the Pirates should have a fighting chance against the Nationals, as it allows them to send a fully rested Liriano/Cole at the Nationals for game one and two.