Pittsburgh Pa: The Pittsburgh Pirates will start the season with a mix of quality veterans and a pile of Young players that will be forced to take that next step in order for the team to win this season. Regardless of the front office shortcomings, the roster has potential. Let’s take a closer look as we ready for today’s game.
The infield will be anchored by Josh Bell at first base. Bell had a break out rookie season and if the spring is any gauge at all, I believe we could see bigger and better things from him. As far as his defense, he has become very solid at first and his work has paid off.
The middle infield will have boast Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer. Both are veteran players and can contribute on offense. Josh Harrison was outspoken at Spring Training about wanting to be traded. Many times when you see someone do that, they fail to produce with the bat. The Pirates have chosen to keep Harrison and are hoping he can perform up to his standards with average and power. As for Mercer, he is a solid short stop with limited range. His bat is in no way a liability but he will not be a .300 average guy. He is also prone to slow starts, very Andrew McCutchen like.
At third is Colin Moran who came over in the trade for Gerrit Cole. Moran had a good spring and has shown the ability to field his position. Moran has power, but is a complete wild card for the season. I would love to say I have a feeling one way or the other, but I do not on him.
The Catching position is a position of strength for the Pirates. They have Cervelli, who has had his best spring in some time because he is healthy. He is backed up by Elias Diaz, who I believe is a better all around player. He has a better arm, he is less prone to injury, has power, and has shown the ability to get big hits in big situations.
The Outfield has Starling Marte in center, Polanco in right and Corey Dickerson in left. Dickerson came in via trade and brings a nice power bat. If he plays to his ability, he will provide this team the power they lose with McCutchen being traded. Marte is coming off a season which was disappointing to say the least. Half the season was lost to suspension the other half served as spring training essentially. Marte hits for average, and will steal you 40 bases. He also has power, though that has shown to be inconsistent. Gregory Polanco has struggled with injury and because of that, we have not seen the progression the organization has expected. He has power enough to be a 30 home run kind of player, if he can stay healthy.
The Rotation is where the rubber will meet the road in my opinion. Jameson Taillon will be their ace and has pitched well in the spring. He has assumed the role and has the kind of attitude you need for that role. I look for him to take a giant step…. if he stays healthy which has been an issue for him. Chad Kuhl and Trevor Williams asserted themselves last season and have shown to be solid pitchers.
Trevor Williams, although he does not possess 100mph, stuff has the ability to hit spots more than any of the pitchers on the team.(in my opinion) If he can continue his growth, he will win 12 games without question.
Chad Kuhl was never touted as a fireball throwing pitcher but yet last season he showed that. He struggled getting through a lineup more than two times but I believe he will do that with more regularity this year. He is someone who possess number 2 pitcher power, just needs to take that next step in order to reach that goal.
They have Ivan Nova, a veteran pitcher that has shown the ability to be a good pitcher. Although, he was not able to carry his good pitching for 2 halves of last season. Nova was a much different pitcher in the second half of the season. He is a pitcher that relies on hitting his spots and if he doesn’t, he will get banged around.
The last spot will be held down by Joe Musgrove, a player that came over the Cole trade. He pitched well in the spring But he is another guy that is a complete wild card. The bullpen will sport Felipe Rivero in the closers role where he asserted himself as one of the best in the game last season. To set him up, the Bucs have put together an interesting group. Josh Smoker, Edgar Santana, George Kontos, Steven Brault, Tyler Glasnow, Michael Feliz, and Dovydas Neverauskas. They have a great many hard throwers in that group, but several of those players have shown an ability to be wild. Tyler Glasnow is a pitcher the Pirates are hoping will figure things out in the Pen and earn a starting spot. He has the most upside, but has the ability to be a complete bust. Steven Brault reminds me of Jeff Locke. I am not sold him what so ever but the Bucs are bent on keeping him in the pen.
The Bench is a strength for the Pirates in my opinion. David Freese, Sean Rodriguez, Adam Frazier are good offensive options that have position flexibility. They have Elias Diaz at catcher and can come off the bench to give you a pinch hit when needed. The Pirates have chosen to have 8 players in their bullpen which means the bench will be short by 1 guy. It shows that they feel that their Rotation is a concern and one that needs to be bolstered until they really see what they have.
I predict 79 wins, though that could shift 5 games in either direction. I could see this team with a winning record if they have more things go right then wrong. It all depends on the pitching.
Predictions sure to go wrong (If all of this occurs, they could win more than 82 games. But you know what they say about ifs and buts)
I think Taillon will get to 17 wins, and be the player they hoped he could.
I think Josh Bell stays healthy and hits 30 home runs.
Josh Harrison will have his worst year on record. (Which will kill trade value)
I believe the outfield will be the best outfield the Pirates have had since the 90’s. It will produce better offensively then it ever did with McCutchen in the lineup. Marte will hit .300 with 15 homers. Polanco will return to be a 25 home run player and Dickerson will equal what he accomplished last year with 28 home runs.
Elias Diaz will take over midway through the season as the starter and not give it up.
Trevor Williams will win 15 games.
It’s Time to Play Ball!!!!