3. The Pittsburgh Pirates
Until very recently, the Pirates looked like they were the kings of the NL Central. That is until suffering two series sweeps against the Chicago Cubs in a week which plunged them down to fourth place. The starting pitching hasn't been horrible for the Buccos with 27-year-old Mitch Keller shooting ahead of the pack as the best starter. Keller has 113 strikeouts in 99 innings with a 3.45 ERA. The former Cub Rich Hill is eating innings (89) for Pittsburgh in his age 43-season, but his effectiveness is much to be desired with an ERA in the mid-4 range.
Johan Oviedo, Luis Ortiz, and Osvaldo Bido are all showing good signs as all three men are trying to establish themselves at the big league level. With a lot of young guys and Hill's health always a factor, the Pirates' rotation is decent but fragile at the same time. The team does have a pair of top 100 pitching prospects in Anthony Solometo (AA) and Quinn Priester (AAA) on their way. If one of those rookies comes up and performs at a high level and the Pirates make a free agent signing, this rotation could have an entirely different look in the near future.