Jul 5, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) reacts as he leaves the field after pitching the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians in an inter-league game at PNC Park. The Pirates won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
After the series against the Cleveland Indians had wrapped up on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates had officially played 81 games and exactly half of the 162-game season had gone by. The team held a 47-34 record, good for first place in the National League Wild Card and second place in the NL Central. Even though the Pirates are currently 5.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, the first half of the season should be considered nothing short of successful for a team with World Series aspirations.
Many players have contributed to the team’s success. Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, and Francisco Liriano make up one of the most dangerous trios for the second-best pitching staff by ERA in all of baseball. Tony Watson and Mark Melancon have rebounded from their early season struggles to become one of the best one-two punches in the back of a bullpen in the league, while Jared Hughes has followed up his 2014 campaign with a strong 2015 effort.
Andrew McCutchen continues to be the face of the offense and the team in Pittsburgh, and for good reason. He’ll start in the outfield for the National League in the all-star game and hope to make the city proud. Starling Marte is beginning to make himself a household name throughout the country and he’s on pace for the best power numbers of his career. Josh Harrison has fulfilled his contract extension nicely, providing the Pirates with a valuable leadoff man (at least, until his recent injury). And Francisco Cervelli has made most fans forget all about Russell Martin leaving.
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Yet, even for a team that’s currently 14 games over .500, there have been some disappointments and some players that haven’t lived up to expectations. For the pitching, Jeff Locke has struggled for much of the season outside of his most recent gem. Charlie Morton had the worst outing for any starter this year in a start against the Washington Nationals, and has struggled since his hot start to the year since returning from the disabled list. Antonio Bastardo hasn’t been able to take hold of the seventh inning role that the Pirates expected him to when they traded for him over the offseason.
Andrew Lambo started the season one for 25 before going on the disabled list, having yet to return to game action. Corey Hart, looked at by some as a bargain signing this offseason, was placed on the disabled list recently follow his horrid season; his time in Pittsburgh may be coming to an end. Gregory Polanco hasn’t become the star many envisioned him developing into this year, nor has he shown any signs of improvement over last year. The Pirates may look externally to improve both first base and right field before the trade deadline.
Now that half of the season is complete, it’s time for us to give you our mid-season awards. Let’s start off with our Pirates’ Cy Young winner at the 81-game mark.
Next: Cy Young