Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Pirates

Can the upstart Cubs claim the NL Central?

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 94-68

Over the past decade, the Cardinals have been the most consistent franchise because of their ability to develop players and allocate money to keep important free agents. The Cardinals significant upgraded their defense in the outfield and starting lineup with the addition of Jason Heyward. The return of Yadier Molina will improve their team because he is the heart of the team and their MVP candidate. In terms of pitching, the Cardinals have a strong 1 through 4 with Lynn, Wainwright, Wacha, and Lackey. The Cardinals do not have one of the best bullpens, but they frequently make deals at the deadline to make marginal improvements.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates:

Record: 87-75

After 20 years without recording a winning season, the Pirates have consistently won 80 games over the past few seasons. The Pirates’ lineup is filled with talented and athletic players that were former top prospects. The Pirates’ will become an above average lineup if Andrew McCutchen maintains an MVP candidate, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte continue their excellence, and Gregory Polanco turns his talent into production. In terms of pitching, they possess one of the best young arms in Gerrit Cole, who should produce like an ace, and veteran arms, AJ Burnett, Jeff Locke, and Francisco Liriano.

3. Chicago Cubs:

Record: 84-78

The Cubs are the most interesting and intriguing teams in the entire league due to their talented prospects. The Cubs have the best farm system in the league and this season they should start converting their talent into results. With the core of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara, and potential MVP Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs’ offense should be impressive and entertaining to watch. In terms of pitching, the Cubs have one of the best 1-2 punches in the league with Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. Outside of their top two starters, the Cubs will need quality performances from Jason Hammel, Alex Wood, and Kyle Kendricks to make the playoffs.

4. Milwaukee Brewers:

Record: 82-80

The Brewers were on the precipice of making the playoffs last season before a second half plunge due to a dearth of starting pitching. The Brewers’ chances of making the playoffs will be diminished  by their lack of pitching once again. During the offseason, the Brewers dealt Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada, which limited their options and Jimmy Nelson to mature quickly. Offensively, the Brewers will be effective with Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez, and Jonathan Lucroy. If Braun can remerge as one of the 10 best hitters in the league and Lucroy and Gomez can replicate last seasons performances, they should compete for the division crown.

5. Cincinnati Reds:

Record: 78-84

The Reds will only go as far as Joey Votto can take them. Over the past two years, Votto has been decimated by injuries, which has caused the team to finish outside of the playoffs. If Votto can come close to his MVP season, by maintaining a high OBP, the Reds offense should become one of the best in the league. Along with Votto, they have quality complementary players like Todd Frazier, Billy Hamilton, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips. Due to the impending free agency of their starting pitchers, the Reds were forced to deal former All-Stars Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos. However, the Reds still have Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and possibly Tony Congrani.

 

Do the Pirates have enough to finish above .500?

By: Jon

When people awoke this morning, they saw that the Pittsburgh Pirates had the best record in baseball. Many of them are probably thinking, “How could this be true? The Pirates have not finished a season over .500 in the last 20 years!” There is no typo. The Pirates have one of the most talented rosters as well as a consistent rotation and bullpen. The Pirates may only have one superstar, but every player on their roster feels like they are an All-Star. The Pirates are the first team to 50 wins, although the player with the highest batting average is rookie pitcher Gerrit Cole, .333. The Pirates have been winning because of their pitching. Many people only know starters AJ Burnett and Francisco Liriano because of their past success and failure. Although Burnett and Liriano have been solid starters, the Pirates’ best pitcher has been Jeff Locke. During his first full season, Locke has won seven games and compiled a 2.06 ERA. The Pirates have 3 starters with an ERA less than 3.15, Locke, Burnett, Liriano. However, the current and future ace of the staff is Gerrit Cole. Cole was the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft and has a 100 mph fastball with a devastating slider. He made his major league debut league on June 11. Since his debut, Cole has yet to lose or give up more than 3 runs. However, like most young pitchers, Cole has not pitched deep into many starts, averaging 6 innings per start.

Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole

The most unlikely of all the Pirates’ stars is Jason Grilli. After trading away their All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox, Jason Grilli assumed the position with few expectations. However, Grilli has taken the league by storm, converting 27 of his 28 save opportunities. Grilli has a 1.77 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 58 K. Along with Grilli, Mark Melancon is having a breakout season, solidifying the back end of the Pirates bullpen. Mark may have better stats than Grilli, 0.86 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 43 K.  Also, the Pirates have a solid lefty reliever, Justin Wilson. Although Wilson’s stats are not comparable to Melancon or Grilli’s stats, he has been an effective lefty specialist, 2.23 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 39 K.

Jason Grilli
Jason Grilli

Although the Pirates do not resemble the Yankee’s Murder’s Row lineup, they are able to score enough runs to win. The Pirates offense is led by superstar Andrew McCutchen. Andrew is having another great season, .293, 50 runs and 41 RBI. The Pirates may have an Andrew McCutchen clone in Starling Marte. The rookie outfield is having a great season, .283, 22 SB, and 51 runs. The Pirates are able to balance out their lineup because of Pedro Alvarez. The three year veteran is a home run machine. Alvarez is third in the National League in homers and many people think he has the most power in the league. Pirates’ fans may be hesitant about their team because they do not have a great lineup, like Cincinnati or St. Louis. However, if their pitching maintains its dominance, the Pirates will have their first over .500 season in the last 20 years and possibly make the playoffs.

Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen

Stats and pics from ESPN.com