The days of trying to predict Chris Archer to be an American League Cy Young winner are over, and not just because he moved to the National League. His career trajectory just hasn’t panned out, but he is still a quality arm. The strikeouts were down from 2017, but his ERA estimators fell in line with his career norm. He will move to the National League for a full season now, and pitch in a good pitchers park as like he did in Tampa Bay. The NL Central is not an easy division to pitch in given the new and improved offenses, but avoiding the Yankees and Red Sox will be nice as well. Archer is a heavy off-speed pitcher, but that has been changing over the last season and a half. Pittsburgh will need to adjust a few things and those tweaks might get him to be the pitcher we saw around 2015 and 2016. Archer has projections around 190 strikeouts and a mid threes ERA. Those would be very solid numbers and this could turn into a very good rotation with some of the middling names around them.
Pittsburgh won 82 games, and finished above .500 which was an impressive record given this is not the team same that went on those postseason runs from a few seasons ago. Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Chicago will continue to be ahead of the Pirates, but that might not stop Pittsburgh from being a competitive team. Winning 80+ games would be a solid goal for Pittsburgh, and likely have them in line for another fourth place finish unless something weird happens with the other teams. The Pirates have made some moves of the last few seasons, and have some young talent. Their rotation might not have the star power name right now, but there are a lot of quality arms that can go out and get the job done. Pittsburgh might not make a run for the postseason, but they will be a competitive bunch that will give teams some trouble.
Mitch Keller is the next up and coming arm in the Pittsburgh farm system, and he came into the season as a top 20 prospect. He is likely going to pitch this season for the Pirates, but that time might come mid-year where he can round out the second half and not have a taxing year on his arm. Keller has shown strikeout upside in the minors, and walks might be the biggest concern. He will have some rocky starts, but Keller is a name to keep an eye on for a pitcher on the rise. With no real fifth starter, his season will likely split with Jordan Lyles in terms of seasonal projections.