Sun 29/03/2015 - 05:55 EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Season Preview

Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Season Preview
After 20 years of being the laughing stock of Major League Baseball, the Pirates have made consecutive trips to the playoffs. With the best player in the National League Andrew McCutchen helming a potent lineup, the Pirates are gearing up for another trip to the postseason in 2015.

Futures

Odds To Win Division: +275

Odds To Win NL Pennant: 14/1

Odds To Win World Series: 28/1

Regular Season Win Total: 83.5

Most Significant Offseason Changes

Biggest Additions: 

Corey Hart, RF

Francisco Cervelli, C

Steve Lombardozzi, 2B

Antonio Bastardo, RP

Biggest Losses:

Russell Martin, C

Edinson Volquez, SP

John Axford, RP

Jeanmar Gomez, RP

Clint Barmes, SS

Justin Wilson, RP

Ike Davis, 1B

Travis Snider, RF

They’ll Be Successful If…

The Pirates have a deep lineup headlined by one of the best players in the game. The Pirates’ bullpen is one of the more underrated groups in the league. Helmed by the thrilling Andrew McCutchen, the pirates lineup was one of the best in the National League last season. The Pirates lineup featured 9 players who hit double digit home runs in 2014. While most power hitting teams often struggle in other offense categories, the Pirates did not. Pittsburgh finished first in the NL in team walks and third in team batting average. With Starling Marte ripping around the bases and Gregory Polanco more prepared for life in the Majors, the lineup should once again be dominate in 2015.  The offseason saw the Pirates do some serious restructuring in the bullpen, but they retained the services of their three best relievers. Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Jared Hughes create a three-headed monster for the Pirates. All three relievers posted a sub 2.00 ERAs in 2014, with Melancon (the closer) leading the pack and finishing the season with a stingy WHIP of 0.873. The addition of Antonio Bastardo helps fill the void left from offseason losses. The Pirates should once again have one of the best bullpens in baseball this season.        

They’ll Be Unsuccessful If…

The pitching staff for the Pirates is floating right around average. With Edinson Volquez moving to American’s Heartland this offseason, the staff is cluttered with a string of average pitchers. Francisco Liriano is commendable atop the rotation, but has a tendency to walk a lot of batters. The same goes for offseason addition A.J. Burnett. The two ranked first and second in the NL in walks given up last season and combined to walk stiflingly high 177 batters in 2014. The young gun, Gerrit Cole, should continue to post respectable numbers, though in most ways Cole regressed between 2013 and 2014. With his ERA and WHIP both increasing from 2013 to 2014, Cole should hopefully see the trend begin to slope downward in his junior year.Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke and Vance Worley round out the two final spots in the starting rotation. While Charlie Morton is inconsistent he will likely be the fourth starter due to his age (31) and experience. Expect Vance Worley to start at five (and maybe be the Pirates best pitcher), while Jeff Locke will make spot starts and fill in if injuries occur.      

Fantasy Bargain: Vance Worley, SP

Sitting all the way at the bottom of the Pirates rotation, Worley should actually be one of the better pitchers in The Steel City this season. Worley posted a sizzling 2.85 ERA and went 8-4 in his 17 starts in 2014. With only 437 innings pitched in his career, Worley arms is fresh and he is poised to start at least 25 games in 2015. If he can avoid any injuries and with Pirates playing competitive ball, Worley could hit 15 wins and average right around 8 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2015.      

Outlook

The Pirates have a good roster, but it is not well rounded enough for them to make the jump to World Series contenders in 2015. With Andrew McCutchen leading the team, it will be competitive day in and day out, and has just enough pop to make it back to the post season in 2015.

Prediction: 2nd In NL Central

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Tag : baseball , mlb , Pirates , Pittsburgh Pirates , Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Season Preview

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