Thursday, March 22, 2018
Pittsburgh Pirates 2018 season preview
Coming off a disappointing season by both the team and star Andrew McCutchen, the Pittsburgh Pirates attempted a big turn-around in 2017. But, they failed drastically. The Pirates finished 4th in the NL Central with a 75-87 record, missing the playoffs. With trade rumors surrounding most of their players, the Pirates had some moves to make. Let's take a look at what they did in the offseason.
Notable additions: OF Corey Dickerson, RHP Joe Musgrove, 3B Colin Moran, RHP Michael Feliz, OF Bryce Brentz, LHP Josh Smoker, LHP Kevin Siegrist, OF Daniel Nava, C Ryan Lavarnway.
Notable subtractions: CF Andrew McCutchen, RHP Gerrit Cole, RHP Dan Hudson, LHP Wade LeBlanc, RF John Jaso, C Chris Stewart, INF Gift Ngoepe.
What they did well: The addition of Dickerson, an all-star last season, for just Hudson and a prospect was a steal of a trade.
What they did bad: They didn't get enough for McCutchen and Cole, their best two players.
Sneaky sleeper: Since the Pirates decided to hold on to Josh Harrison, it will be hard for Adam Frazier to get too much playing time. Frazier can play second base, right field and other positions, as he showed last year. he stole nine bases and hit .276 in his short time. If Frazier can get a starting role after an injury or trade, watch out for him.
Incoming outbreak: The most intriguing player in the Cole trade to me, the fight for a rotation spot got a lot easier for Joe Musgrove after his trade to Pittsburgh. Musgrove failed to do too much in Houston, with a 4.52 ERA in 171.1 innings. But, he's still just 25, and can surprise many in this upcoming season.
Unsuspected slump: Once looked at as a future star, Gregory Polanco isn't that anymore after hitting .251 with 11 homers, just 35 RBIs, and more importantly, only eight stolen bases in 2017. This season is a make-or-break year for him.
Blue-chip Bopper: A suspension due to steroids cut his season short, but Starling Marte still swiped 21 bags in 339 Plate Appearances, and drove in just four batters less than Polanco (31). A full season can bring Marte back to his 2016 dominance.
Astounding ace: With Cole out of the picture, I guess closer Felipe Rivero, fresh off a new extension, will be their guy. Rivero had a 1.67 ERA and struck out 88 batters in 75.1 innings, showing everybody that he is their closer. It looks like the Pirates have come close to winning the Mark Melancon deal with this gem.
Here's their projected roster, starting with their lineup.
2B Josh Harrison (R)
RF Gregory Polanco (L)
CF Starling Marte (R)
LF Corey Dickerson (L)
1B Josh Bell (L)
3B David Freese (R)
SS Jordy Mercer (R)
C Fransisco Cervelli (R)
Here's their rotation.
RHP Ivan Nova
RHP Chad Kuhl
RHP Jameson Taillon
RHP Trevor Williams
RHP Joe Musgrove
RHP Tyler Glasnow
Felipe Rivero (L) is their closer, with George Kontos (R), Michael Feliz (R), Josh Smoker (L), A.J. Schugel (R) and Edgar Santana (R) in the bullpen.
3B Colin Moran (L), U Adam Frazier (R), C Elias Diaz (R), INF Jose Osuna (R) and U Sean Rodriguez (R) are on the bench.
Finally, for my prediction, I think the Pirates, a rebuilding team, will miss the playoffs in 2018.