A 6 Pack of How the Pirates Compete in 2018

A look at how the Bucs season could go.

Jeff Hathhorn
March 28, 2018 - 12:00 pm
Aint No Stopping Us Now

93.7 the Fan

Pirates season about to start, so before you grab one, here is a six pack of ways the Pirates can fight for a playoff spot this season.  This is full of ‘what ifs’, but isn’t it the time of year for optimism.

Starting pitching

Jameson Taillon becomes the ace of the Pirates rotation, not too far-fetched as the young righty has dealt with adversity and is about as focused as a 26-year-old number 1 starter can be. 

Behind Taillon, Chad Kuhl and Trevor Williams continue to grow.  Not that outrageous as Williams is a bulldog of a pitcher and as Ray Searage said about Kuhl “he doesn’t know how good he can be”.

Ivan Nova just becomes a glimpse of what he was after the trade with the Yankees.  Working out harder in the off-season has him leaner and he believes it will pay off as games, and the season, go along.

The true wild card is Joe Musgrove, late to the party with right shoulder discomfort.  Francisco Cervelli says he loves his mindset.  Musgrove has five pitches and started 15 games for the World Champion Astros, including winning a relief appearance in the World Series.

Bench

It starts shorter than it likely will be, but has as much diversity as they’ve had.  Sean Rodriguez believes he’s recovered from the car accident which led to a shoulder injury last year.  In his last full season with the Pirates, Rodriguez hit .270 with 18 homers.

David Freese is the back up at first and third, Adam Frazier will lead off when in the lineup and can play second, left and center, in a pinch.

Elias Diaz is the back-up catcher, should be an upgrade from Chris Stewart in mobility and at the plate, if not yet handling pitchers.

Cervelli Healthy

Diaz is expected to get a couple of starts during every full week of games behind Francisco Cervelli.  He is probably the “what if” in every season prediction in the last couple of years.  Cervelli had a big Spring, hitting four homers and looking agile behind the plate.  Cervelli credits a new Brazilian martial arts workout in the off-season.

Newcomers Make Impact

Along with Musgrove, former Astro and lefty hitting third baseman Colin Moran takes the lefty platoon at third.  Moran has had limited opportunities in the majors, hitting .308 in Triple A last year with 18 homers and a .373 on base percentage.

Corey Dickerson looks more like the .312 average, 17 homers of the first half in Tampa Bay as opposed to the .241, 10 homers of the second half.

Comradery Really Helps

From the manager to nearly every player, the team says it’s never been this close.  Josh Bell said guys are making off-field decisions based on helping the team.  Musgrove says it was big for them in Houston last year.  It seems to be a chicken or egg thing, but maybe the closeness of the room will create more wins.

Marte/Polanco star

This is point number 6 and it’s all about number 6.  Starling Marte along with Gregory Polanco must be stars on this team.  They don’t have to be NL All-Stars, but above average players and among the top five Pirates players this year.

Will all of this happen?  Who knows, but at this time of year, and for those looking for hope, my beer is currently half full.