The Pittsburgh Pirates will be competitive in 2017. After all, the 2016 Pirates in a season that went horribly wrong in so many ways were only 2.5 games out after games played on September 3. Finishing 11-17 in their final 28 games was a terrible way to end the season, but the team was still in contention and had a shot.
The Pirates should be better, simply by not having Jeff Locke and Jon Niese in it. Also, anybody is better than what Liriano gave the Pirates last season. Juan Nicasio won’t see the rotation, and Ryan Vogelsong is no longer a Pirate. The rotation has improved, and that is with a guy like Chad Kuhl projected by STEAMER to post a 4.29 FIP.
Jung-Ho Kang is out for however long, David Freese is up for some serious regression, but the lineup still remains solid. McCutchen will certainly be better, Bell should produce, and Marte will be Marte. Harrison needs to see improvement, Frazier hopefully can field, and Polanco needs a healthy season. Mercer will continue to be Mercer, playing every day with solid defense with a below average bat. Cervelli needs a healthy season, but he will continue to frame well and get on base.
Add this up, to a bullpen that looks like it should be a strength, the Pirates will be in the mid-80s win range, and I’ll go with 86-76 and securing a second wild card spot. The Cardinals lost Matt Holliday and Brandon Moss to free agency, and Alex Reyes was lost to Tommy John. They are getting Lance Lynn back, but overall the don’t appear to be strong unless they acquire Jose Quintana. The Cardinals seem to be destined for a down year and a third place finish, but devil magic does occur:
The Mets will be good again, even with Steven Matz shutdown. Zack Wheeler will be in the rotation, but he’s been a constant injury over the last few seasons. They too have questions outside their rotation. Some questions are how well will Neil Walker’s back hold up, and will Michael Conforto get his shot, finally? They have the largest threat to the second wild card, as the Giants seem to be a lock for the first. The rest of the playoff teams will be Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington.
The Pirates season can either flop or excel, they have players with high ceilings and low floors they are counting on. Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell‘s season can go in two directions, the latter depending on his defense. Will Adam Frazier‘s low exit velocity and high average on balls in play catch up to him? If so, that will be a downturn. Regardless, with how the team was last year with the pitching staff the way they were, the mid-80s wins and hunting for a playoff spot seems like a safe bet.