Pittsburgh Pirates Ship Up to Boston to Begin 2017 Campaign

Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

Well, Pittsburgh Pirates fans, the time has finally arrived. April showers are bringing May flowers, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining (mostly), and the Buccos are playing regular-season baseball. After a bitterly disappointing 2016, the Pirates seek to start off the season on a high note with a 3-game set in Boston. Let’s take a look at some players to watch.

The rosters are set. The teams are ready. It’s finally time for baseball. Well, at least it’s time for baseball that means anything. The Pittsburgh Pirates made us all very sad last season, missing out on the playoffs entirely after posting a 78-83 record and coming in third place in the NL Central. Their division rival Chicago Cubs ended up winning the World Series, too, just as extra insult to injury.

2017 is a completely different beast for the Buccos. Expectations are…. different. I don’t think anyone is expecting the Pirates to win the World Series, but I also don’t think anyone would accept a bottom-dwelling campaign either. Let’s just say that the expectations aren’t as high as they were last year. I think this could be to the Pirates’ advantage. Maybe they can just relax and play some ball now.

The MLB season is (ridiculously) 162 games long, but everyone is important. This week is no different. Game 1 counts just as much as Game 162, so let’s take a look at some players and matchups to watch as the Pirates take on the Boston Red Sox on the road to start off the year.

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Pitching Matchups

Gerrit Cole vs. Rick Porcello

Jameson Taillon vs. Chris Sale

Chad Kuhl vs. Eduardo Rodriguez

As intriguing as each of these pitching matchups is, nothing is more exciting than Opening Day. First of all, it’s the start of a new season. The smell of excitement and stadium-brand hot dogs is in the air. But perhaps more importantly from a baseball standpoint, it’s a day dedicated to watching leviathan aces go at each other until one of them blinks.

Gerrit Cole is an interesting case, though, because he didn’t look like much of an ace for most of last season, posting a 7-10 record with a 3.88 ERA. Those stats aren’t abysmal. They don’t make you want to vomit when you look at them. But they’re definitely not ace-worthy. The Pirates need Cole to be an ace if they are going to get their name back into the mix when it comes to the playoff picture, let alone the World Series.

And what better way to test yourself than against the reigning AL Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.15 in 2016). It’ll be a key for the Pirates for Cole to get back to his ways of badassery, mowing batters down and then screaming at their faces right afterward, for the team to get themselves back to relevancy. A solid performance against Porcello and a superb Red Sox lineup could springboard him to a great, much needed beginning to 2016.

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Player to Watch: Andrew McCutchen

Speaking of superstars who stunk up the joint last season: Your Honor, I present to you, Exhibit B. His name is Andrew McCutchen. Cutch’s stats last year were ugly (.256 with 24 home runs and 79 RBIs) and, despite what some would say, he stunk the whole way through. I heard someone on the ROOT Sports broadcast the other night say that McCutchen turned it around. They feel he looked like his old self for the last couple months of the season. He didn’t look like that at all. He looked like Mr. Krabs on that episode of Spongebob where he loses his shell. He looked lost at the plate all year, like he was completely out of his element the whole season.

Much like Cole in the paragraphs above, the Pirates need Cutch to produce like a superstar if they are to have more than a snowball’s chance in Hell of making it back to the playoffs. At one point in his career, Cutch carried the city and the team on his back and awakened a baseball city that had been asleep for 20 years. Last year, he was bad. Now, we just hope he’s back.

He’s got a new position in right field, so hopefully that semi-demotion will be the kick in the butt his game needs to kick it into another gear. Or it could completely mess up his feng shui and he could completely fall off the face of the planet. Let’s hope for the former.


The Sox are pretty stacked, but their pitching for the opening series took a major hit when it was announced that David Price would be initially sidelined with an elbow injury. Because of this, I think strong pitching performances from Cole and Taillon will carry the Buccos to a 2-1 series victory to start the season off on a positive note, hopefully carrying over into the rest of their games.

Go Bucs!