The Pirates were supposed to be able to hit, while being thoroughly unable to pitch.
While the offense ranks last in the National League in total bases, the starting pitching has seen its ERA plummet from 5.28, worst in the majors in 2010, to 3.19.
If that were to hold up, it would mark the fourth-largest such reduction since 1969 for any rotation that finished last in the majors the previous year.
"It's been just about two months, and our starting pitching has done just about what our goal is," general manager Neal Huntington said. "That's been remarkable.
"They've kept us in almost every game we've played this year. Is it going to stay that way? We've got a lot of challenges going forward. But, instead of searching for ways to fill out the rotation, we look like we've got some depth and some choices now."
Charlie Morton has represented the greatest individual turnaround, using his new three-quarters delivery and devastating sinker to post a 2.61 ERA, down from 7.57 last season.
"Our mindset now is that we're good enough to be here," Karstens said. "Now, we just need to refine it and be more consistent."
They also could use a little help. Maholm, in particular, has gotten only 14 runs of support in his 10 starts, explaining a 1-7 record despite a 3.56 ERA.
"Our job is to give our team a chance to win," Maholm said. "I think we've all done pretty well so far, but there's a long way to go."
The Pirates were off Thursday and begin a series in Chicago on Friday.
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.