Pittsburgh Pirates Predictions for 2015 Opening Day Roster

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Pittsburgh Pirates predictions are always fun.  After a Pirates off season that was the most interesting in recent memory for reasons that weren’t all that interesting for me, it’s nearly time for Johnny Cueto to throw the first pitch to Josh Harrison.  The Pirates 2015 season is filled with great expectations, but it will end with a Pirates loss.

So a World Series victory will not happen in 2015.

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The Pirates will hit much better in 2015.  The team will strand the fewest runners of any team in baseball by seasons end.  It will be dramatically different than the 2014 team who stranded runners at an epidemic level.

The Pirates predictions for the pitching staff are more difficult.  The staff will be much improved, especially the nine pitchers who start for the team in 2015.

Mar 6, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) singled during the second inning against the New York Yankees at a spring training baseball game at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Alvarez will hit 37 home runs.  It would be more, but early in the season he was benched against left handed pitching.  But by seasons end, El Toro becomes the on-base machine most predicted during his quick rise to the majors.  The strikeouts continue, but at just 18 percent, Alvarez is the Pirates MVP.

Alvarez hits six home runs in the post season, or as it should be named Pedro Season.

Neil Walker has a monster season.  Hometown has ten homers by June 1st, makes his first All-Star appearance, and wins his first Gold Glove.

Jordy Mercer has a solid season with 17 home runs.

Jung-Ho Kang is sent to AAA Indianapolis to work on his hitting.

Kang struggles badly at AAA and many chirp that he should be sent to AA Altoona.

But after some swing refinement, Kang returns to Pittsburgh, feasts on fastballs, and launches 11 homers by seasons end.

Josh Harrison shines so brightly at third base he wins the Gold Glove.  And oh yeah, 45 doubles don’t hurt either.

Sean Rodriguez has every glove except a catchers mitt, but his defense leaves plenty to be desired.

Rodriguez struggles so badly he is DFA.

Corey Hart is not a right fielder.  His poor defense causes him to not play a game in the outfield after July 1st.

But Hart does well enough at the plate to not make too many Pirates fans notice just how well Ike Davis is performing for the Oakland A’s.  As Davis chases the comeback player of the year award, Hart sees little playing time due to the emergency of Alvarez as a star.

Starling Marte looks like a run away MVP candidate, but a slump down the stretch will cost him the award.

Apr 27, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) looks on before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. St. Louis defeated Pittsburgh 7-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew McCutchen battles injury but still has an elite season.

McCutchen hits 30 home runs for the first time in his career.

Gregory Polanco shows the fans what they have been waiting for and feasts on right handed pitching.  But his cannon arm often steals the show during the year, and by seasons end, Polanco will have thrown out 15 base runners.

Polanco also steals 30 bags and hits 16 home runs.

Andrew Lambo is a solid bench option, but he gets slugged in a brawl with the Brewers leaving Pirates fans to wonder what every happened to Travis the Bull Snider

Francisco Cervelli misses time and Tony Sanchez is the everyday catcher.

Sanchez will hit 10 home runs by August 15th.

Cervelli retuns for the Pirates stretch run.  The catcher hits five home runs in a five game stretch and is an on base machine as the team strings wins together in their chase of the Cardinals for the NL Central title.

The Pirates fall one game short of the Cardinals for the NL Central crown.

Sep 27, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) pitches during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Francisco Liriano leads the NL in ground ball percentage and makes a serious run at the Cy Young Award with 16 wins.  Frankie returns to the left handed neutralizer he was in 2013.

Gerrit Cole is the dominant pitcher everyone thought he would be.

Cole sends the PNC Park faithful into a frenzy countless times, but none more so than his Opening Day one-hitter in front of the largest crowd ever to watch a game at the gem of the North Shore.

A.J. Burnett throws 205 innings chewing up the opposition repeatedly.

Jeff Locke wins 75 percent of his starts at PNC Park.

Vance Worley puts together a string of eight consecutive wins in eight starts.

Sep 21, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pirates predictions for the bullpen aren’t difficult.  The Bucs bullpen is among the NL’s best by seasons end.

Tony Watson finishes the season as the Pirates closer.

Mark Melancon finishes the 2015 season on the DL.

Antonio Bastardo is dominant in the second half of the season and becomes the Bucs set up man.

Arquimedes Caminero becomes the latest feel good story for the Bucs as he strikes out a batter an inning.  Unfortunately, he only pitches 40 innings.

Jared Hughes bounces between AAA and Pittsburgh throughout the season.

Radhames Liz flames out in mid-May.  But shines in AAA and is a September call-up.

Rob Scahill bounces between AAA and Pittsburgh until the trade deadline.

Despite the improved offense, the improved pitching, and the improved bullpen.  It’s defense that costs the Bucs as they lose in the NL Wild Card game.  The Pirates spend the off season trying to spin how the team doesn’t want to be in the Wild Card game again.

Next: The Pittsburgh Pirates and Unfinished Business

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