For much of the season Pittsburgh Pirates fans had the answer when it came to Joe Musgrove and the Bucs options when it comes to their starting rotation.
“Put Musgrove in the bullpen and put Nick Kingham in the rotation,” was the common opinion for most Pirates fans after Musgrove had success in the bullpen down the stretch last year for the Houston Astros.
But with his performance Musgrove has quieted all of the bullpen talk for good as he’s proven he’s a capable major league starter.
Musgrove boasts a solid 3.41 ERA on the season in 12 starts. He also has a solid 3.74 FIP and 1.216 WHIP on the season.
If there’s anything to nitpick at it’s that Musgrove has only struck out 56 batters in 74 innings of work. But in that same span he’s walked only 19 guys all year.
His pitch efficiency is what has made Musgrove so good as he leads all MLB starters in fewest pitches per inning at 14.1.
Getting ahead of hitters has been key as he threw 23 of 26 first-pitch strikes Tuesday night against the Rockies.
That’s allowed him to go deeper into ballgames as Musgrove has pitched at least seven innings in four consecutive starts. Overall he’s gone seven innings in seven of 12 Pirates starts.
That alone has been a breath of fresh air as just this week, in the four starts leading up to Musgrove’s performance, Kingham lasted only an inning, Chris Archer went 4.1 innings, Ivan Nova went four and Trevor Williams just five.
While he’s given the Pirates great length, Musgrove has been snake bit by the Pirates offense.
Monday’s start was the fifth time in his 12 starts the Bucs offense did not score him a single run.
There were plenty of questions about Musgrove coming into the season, but even though it’s been just 12 starts he’s shown that he’s a more than capable major league starter.
In the process Musgrove has put all of the bullpen talk to rest.
If the Pirates are to get hot and find themselves in the Wild Card Game, Musgrove certainly should be in discussion to get the ball.