That’s not a question one normally asks about the Pittsburgh Pirates.

And they made what was a bad situation even worse last year when they traded current star Tom Gorzelanny for rookie Kevin Hart and a raw fielding prospect (netting the two relievers against each other).

But in the recent bind, caused by the collapse of Charlie Morton and Dan McCutchen, not one, but two unlikely pitchers came to the rescue: Jeff Karstens and Brian Burress.

Both of them have pitched brilliant games recently; Burress had back-to-back great games and Karstens had two out of three.

Forget, for a moment, about the original fifth starter candidates Dan McCutchen and Kevin Hart; neither of whom seem worthy of the name right now.

With Ross Ohlendorf back in the rotation, the Pirates have their original front four, plus two candidates for fifth starter in Burress and Karstens.

Should one of them be demoted back to the minors?

That might be unfair as the two are near-equals, and both may be better than a typical fifth starter.

Moreover, despite one recent win, Morton is looking more than a bit shaky as a fourth starter, and there’s always a chance of another injury.

The Pirates did right to keep both of them in the majors.

That would effectively give the Pirates two fifth starters. For now Burress will be the starter, while Karstens will be used as a reliever, which will take some of the pressure of a full starter workload off of him.

But he stands ready to go back into the rotation in case there is another injury.

If this works out there is the possibility that the Pirates can trade Zach Duke, their longest-tenured pitcher, to some of other team for a much needed infield power hitter.

This could be a great move unless Josh Harrison, the second base prospect for whom the Pirates traded Gorzelanny, turns out to be that man.

Read more MLB news on