Postseason Previews: Pittsburgh Pirates

Posted: October 2, 2013 in Uncategorized


2013 Record: 94-68

Offense: For the first time since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates are heading to the postseason. Fittingly, the Bucs will be taking on their division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. Pittsburgh won the season series, 10-9. Against any of the other NL playoff teams, Pittsburgh would be a dramatic underdog. However, their success and familiarity with the Cardinals gives them a ray of hope. Andrew McCutchen (.317-21-84) is the offense of centerpiece for Clint Hurdle’s ballclub. He is joined by veteran Marlon Byrd (.318-3-17) and young Starling Marte (.280-12-35) in a very young but quite athletic outfield. For Pittsburgh to succeed and role deep into the playoffs, they will need to get further contributions from 3B Pedro Alvarez (.233-36-100) and 2B Neil Walker (.251-16-53), two veterans who were in Pittsburgh long before the losing ended.

Starters: This is the spot where the Pirates experienced the most improvement from 2012. AJ Burnett (10-11, 3.30) and Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.26) continued their steady performance. But, it was the dramatic upswing in success from youngsters Gerrit Cole (10-7, 3.22) and Jeff Locke (10-7, 3.52) that impressed the most this season. Add in LHP Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02), who pitched the Pirates over the Reds in the Wild Card game, and the Pirates have a very well-rounded and complete rotation based on strikeouts and power.

Bullpen: What a season for Jason Grilli (0-2, 2.70, 33 SV). After the right-hander was basically left for dead by the Phillies in 2011, the former White Sox caught on with Pittsburgh and has certainly made the most of his time in Western PA. In front of the big closer are Mark Melancon (3-2, 1.39) and Justin Wilson (6-1, 2.08). The Pirates have turned a hoard of no-named relievers into a playoff bound pitching staff. If they continue to pitch like they did down the stretch, the Pittsburgh bullpen could be the difference.

Coaching: Clint Hurdle has only made the playoffs once. That came back in 2007 with the Colorado Rockies. There are a lot of similarities between the two clubs, even if one relied on offense and the other on the strength of their pitching. Still, ’07 Rockies, the Pirates came out of nowhere to shock the world. Can Hurdle mimic his success six-years ago and carry Pittsburgh to the World Series?

Outlook: Lose in NLCS, 1-4


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