Pirates look to bullpen for success


Mike Silvestre, Sports Editor

Baseball is back in Pittsburgh!  The Pirates host the Braves today to open PNC Park, and hope and excitement linger in the air.

Many are excited about the possibility of the Pirates getting back to the playoffs and even feel this current team could be better than the 2015 Pirates that won 98 games.

Even after the Bucs dropped the first two games in Boston, panic is not the correct answer.

Everyone will question the starting rotation due to inexperience, as Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl and Tyler Glasnow enter their first full seasons, but compared to last year’s rotation of Jon Niese, Jeff Locke, and Ryan Vogelsong, this rotation is 100 percent better.

The strength of the team is the bullpen.  Tony Watson is a capable closer and Felipe Rivero is a future closure.  Daniel Hudson provides a power-arm that will produce many strikeouts.  Antonio Bastardo, Juan Nicasio, Wade LeBlanc, and Trevor Williams round out a strong ‘pen.

Offensively, the Bucs need Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte to have good years in order to get back to the playoffs.

Francisco Cervelli looks healthy again, which should produce more power.  Cervelli hit seven home runs in 2015, while only hitting one last year due to a broken hand suffered in June.

Adam Frazier bolsters the bench as all he does is hit, and John Jaso is an intriguing option as he can play first, third, and the corner outfield spots.

In order to return to the playoffs, the Bucs need to be better against the NL Central.  The Pirates went 33-42 against the NL Central a year ago.

Improvements against the Cubs are especially necessary as they went only 4-14 all season against the world champions.  The ability to win within a division is especially important, as the Cubs went 50-25 in the Central.

With roster improvements and a little luck, 2017 should shape up to be better than 2016.