The Pittsburgh Pirates reunited with a familiar friend Friday. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that they signed starting pitcher A.J. Burnett to a one-year deal.  

Burnett, who will turn 38 in January, is coming off a 2014 regular season in which he performed poorly, going 8-18 with a 4.59 ERA in 34 games started.  

That last statistic is key here, however: Thirty-four starts matched the most games he has ever started in a single season.  

In fact, Burnett has been one of the most durable pitchers in the league throughout the last seven seasons, making 30 or more starts in all seven of those years.  

Burnett spent two seasons with the Pirates from 2012-2013 before signing with the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the start of last season.  In 61 games with the Pirates, Burnett compiled a 26-21 record and a 3.41 ERA—the lowest ERA he has compiled among the five major league teams he has played for in his career.

As it remains uncertain whether the Pirates will reach deals on new contracts with either Edinson Volquez or Francisco Liriano, bringing Burnett back for a season makes total sense.  

Still, the signing of Burnett alone probably isn’t enough to propel the Pirates back into the playoffs for the third straight season in 2015.  

With the level of talent among starting pitchers the Pirates currently have, it would not be surprising to see Burnett penciled into the No. 2 slot in the rotation.

Barring any huge signing, Gerrit Cole will likely head into the 2015 season as the starting pitcher on Opening Day.  Aside from both him and Burnett, the Pirates have Jeff Locke and Vance Worley as two starters with considerable experience in the big leagues.  

While Cole has shown that he can dominate on the mound, Locke has been very inconsistent.  In the 2013 regular season, he owned a 2.15 ERA in the first half before pitching to an ERA north of 6.00 in the second half, but he still finished the season with a 3.52 ERA overall.

Then there is Worley, who has been up and down from the minors to the big leagues.  He pitched well during the time he spent with the club in 2014, going 8-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 18 games.

Still, it will not be easy to win with that rotation in a National League Central Division that is growing tougher and tougher, as teams such as the Chicago Cubs are stacked with rising stars.  Pirates general manager Neal Huntington must continue to work hard during the offseason and pursue a solid starter who can bolster that rotation.  

The signing of Burnett was a smart move by Huntington.  But in order for the Pirates to reach the postseason and be considered legitimate World Series contenders, more work needs to be done.


*Statistics courtesy of

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