As we sit here on the eve of the opening of the 2017 MLB season, every team is optimistic, right?
Whether the optimism is legitimate or not, fans always believe that this could be the year for their team.
I’m not sure how far Pirate fans believe this year’s team can go but I’m one person that believes the Bucs are headed back to the playoffs.
No, that’s not an April Fools Joke, I really that Clint Hurdle has a roster that’s capable of being one of the National League’s 5 playoff teams.
Hey, I know half the people who read this will think I’m crazy or just being a fan boy but if you examine the roster, you’ll find very few holes.
Reasons To Like The Pirates Making The Playoffs:
1) Outfield- Once again, the Pirates will field what arguably is the best outfield in MLB. Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco are three players that any team in baseball would want in the middle of their lineup. I believe McCutchen has something to prove and will bounce back to have a solid season. Marte will continue to get better and I believe Polanco will have the best year of his career and will put up better stats than McCutchen and Marte.
2) Pirates Rotation- While plenty of people worried about the rotation heading into spring training, I feel they head North as one of the strength’s of the team. Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow at one time were all top prospects in MLB. I think those three will live up to their enormous potential and be a catalyst for the Pirates success. Ivan Nova is a very capable #3 starter with the ability to rack up a ton of strikeouts. Chad Kuhl, Nick Kingham, Trevor Williams and Steven Brault are nice options as 5th starters and insurance if any of the Big 3 go on them DL for a small period of time.
3) Bullpen- Once again, Neal Huntington has constructed a bullpen that is an area of strength for the team. Not only is it a strength for the Pirates, on paper it looks like one of the best bullpens in the National League.
A bullpen of Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero, Juan Nicasio, Daniel Hudson, Antonio Bastardo and Wade LeBlanc is really, really good. I believe Hurdle has four pitchers in the bullpen that are capable of closing games. Plus, that bullpen is full of guys that throw heat and are capable of cleaning up innings.
4) Youth/Depth- Guys like Adam Frazier, David Freese, Phil Gosselin are good bench options. I feel Frazier is more than a bench player and will show that this year.
That veteran depth coupled with young guys like Alen Hanson, Jose Osuana, Austin Meadows, Clay Holmes, Nick Kingham, Elias Diaz, Kevin Newman and Edgar Santana give the organization more than capable options at some point this season.
Come September this might look like a real bad prediction and I’m sure I’ll be reminded of it. However, as we sit here today, I say be prepared for baseball in October the Pirates are going back to the playoffs.