We’re eight days away from the start of the 2017 Pirates opener vs. the Red Sox in Fenway Park.
As with most team in MLB, the Bucs have a bunch of questions entering the seasons.
Will the Pirates be able to improve upon their 2016 season of 78-83? Who will play third base? Will Andrew McCutchen be able to regain his MVP form? Do they have enough starting pitching depth? Who will Clint Hurdle’s closer be?
Ok, I’ll stop there.
Before complete panic sets in, there are plenty of things to like about this year’s team.
Marte, Polanco and McCutchen potentially is the most talented outfield in baseball, bullpen will throw plenty of heat and has chance to be really good, if 4th starter can be reliable than Cole, Taillon and Nova should be really good, full season of having Josh Bell.
On paper, I actually like the Pirates potential 25-man roster. The biggest problem they’re facing is sharing a division with the Chicago Cubs. Can anyone compete with the World Series champs?
Based off the Cubs lineup the answer would be No but I think that the Cubs rotation and bullpen could take a major step back which could open things for other teams in the division.
Let’s be clear though, even if the Cubs pitching slips, the offense is still capable of carrying them a long way. Also, if the pitching does struggle, the big market Cubs won’t hesitate to spend money to fix the problems.
That’s a luxury Neal Huntington doesn’t have so he’ll have to hope that their core comes through.
Forget about the bench, the fifth starter, who plays third base, etc, if Cole isn’t an ace, Taillon pitches like a high first round pick and the trio in the outfield lives up to their potential, the Pirates won’t have a chance.
As is the case in most sports, it will come down to the stars and whether they perform like stars.