Bucs start hot, but bigger tests are coming

Nick Pouch, Staff Writer

The first week of the season has concluded for the Pirates, and many are surprised by their fantastic start.

The Pirates are currently 7-2, with their losses coming against the Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds. The two losses were dealt to the Pirates because of their pitching, mainly the bullpen, which had been expected to be a strong focal point for this year.

During the final Twins game in that two-game series, Ivan Nova gave up five earned runs and the bullpen proceeded to come in and give up two more. In the third game of the four-game Reds series, the bullpen blew up, giving up five runs in the final four innings, three of which were charged to George Kontos.

One strength this year has been the starting pitching, which has produced a few magnificent games already this year.

During the first game of the double-header Easter Sunday, Trevor Williams pitched a six-inning no-hitter, although he did allow five walks. The following week, Jameson Taillon pitched a one-hit, complete game shutout. Taillon showed his potential that game and showed he can be the ace the Bucs have been looking for.

Another strong point this year has been the batting, headlined by Gregory Polanco.

Polanco was one of the Pirates’ hottest prospects since his debut in 2014. He has never met the potential that the front office and the fans thought he could reach. This has been due to a variety of reasons, primarily hamstring injuries that have limited him since his major league debut.

Polanco this year, however, has been on fire, with his league-leading 13 RBIs and his impressive three homers. Polanco did not show his power at the beginning of the season last year, so this big start is a good sign.

Polanco has already sat out one game with right foot discomfort, so many fans are hoping, given his fantastic year thus far, that this is the most severe injury he will suffer this year.

Even with the Bucs’ impressive start, they have not faced many star-studded teams. They have played the Tigers, Twins, and Reds — none of whom are projected for a playoff run this year.

The Pirates will get their first real test Tuesday when they face the Chicago Cubs in a three-game series against a team that has been on fire since the 2015 season.