This week, we are taking a look at our four area MLB teams, to see how their 2017 seasons will pan out.
Yesterday, we previewed the Phillies’ season. Today, we took a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Last season, the Pirates finished a disappointing 78-83, after having high expectations entering the year. OF Andrew McCutchen had a down year, while injuries ravaged much of the team.
This off season, the Pirates didn’t do much to improve the team. Pittsburgh resigned SP Ivan Nova after he posted an incredible 52-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, along with returning reliever Antonio Bastardo. Overall, the 2017 version of the Pirates is very similar to the 2016 version.
What Pittsburgh is betting on is better seasons from a number of players. McCutchen is expected to be moved to right field this season, to combat a defensive decline that caused him problems while patrolling center field last season.
The team is also hoping for better production from its pitching staff. SP Gerrit Cole struggled with injury in 2016. Ps Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow made their debuts in 2016, but each has struggled with injuries in their development. The team will fill out the rest of the rotation with Nova, and whoever wins a battle for the fifth spot during Spring Training.
Offensively, the Pirates are hoping for more of the same: continued development. While the team is betting on McCutchen’s performance getting closer to his norm, pressure is on fellow OFs Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte to produce and drive in runs at the top of the lineup. The infield has a few question marks, as there is no set starter at any of the four positions. Former prospect Josh Bell will battle it out for first base with John Jaso, incumbent Josh Harrison will compete with Alen Hanson for the second base job, David Freese and Jung Ho Kang will fight for supremacy at third base, and Jordy Mercer will attempt to win the starting shortstop position against Hanson.
Of course, with nothing set in stone and players capable of playing multiple positions, manager Clint Hurdle has a lot of versatility on how he sets his lineup. This enables the team to match up how they want against certain pitchers.
Overall, the Pirates are betting on their own players to improve, and carry the team back into the postseason.
Our question is, how do you think the Pittsburgh Pirates’ season will turn out?