Pittsburgh Pirates Twitter Mailbag: February 13, 2018

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Starting pitcher Chad Kuhl
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Starting pitcher Chad Kuhl /

Welcome back to our weekly Pittsburgh Pirates Twitter mailbag here at Rum Bunter and our first mailbag of Spring Training 2018.

Yesterday, pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training for the Pittsburgh Pirates. With that, Spring Training 2018 is officially underway!

The past 24 hours we have been taking questions on Twitter for this week’s mailbag. As always, we will delve into some of those questions in this week’s mailbag.

Let’s dive into this week’s mailbag.

I believe both Joe Musgrove and Steven Brault will be on the Opening Day roster. As for which one will be in the starting rotation, I expect it to be Musgrove.

the Pittsburgh Pirates did not acquire Joe Musgrove in the Gerrit Cole trade so that he can be in the bullpen. As recently as 2016, Musgrove was one of the top-100 prospects in all of basbeall and he has all the tools needed to be a good Major League starting pitcher.

Barring some sort of change look for the Opening Day rotation to be Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, Trevor Williams, Chad Kuhl, and Joe Musgrove.

Oh dear sweet baby Jesus I hope so.

2017 was an up and down season for Chad Kuhl, but in the end he posted a strong 8.12 K/9, 4.24 FIP, and 1.9 fWAR in 31 starts. He also saw his fastball reach new heights averaging 95.5 miles per hour while routinely touching 100 miles per hour. The issue, however, is that he struggled immensely with control (4.12 BB/9) and going deep into games as he averaged just 5.08 innings per start.

Chad Kuhl did get better as the season progressed, though. In his final 17 starts Kuhl averaged 8.61 K/9, he allowed just 10 home runs, his ERA was 3.58, and his FIP was 4.19. He continued to struggle with control though as he averaged 4.35 BB/9 in these starts.

As the season progressed Kuhl began to mix in a curveball which helped him grow leaps and bounds against left-handed hitters. His fate for 2018 will hinge on his control. If he can improve his control to go along with his new power fastball and his curveball against lefties, the sky could be the limit for Kuhl.

If Kuhl can continue to improve the way he did over the course of the final three months of 2017, then 2018 very well may be a breakout year for Kuhl. If not, his ceiling is probably a Chad Greene type.

I will say under. The team still needs another outfielder, but do not be surprised if they are content with rolling with Adam Frazier, Daniel Nava, and Sean Rodriguez in left field for the season’s first 2+ months until Austin Meadows arrives.

The team is still in dire need of starting pitching, but with 2018 setting up to be more about playing for the future than anything else the team is ready to roll with the young rotation options that they have. So I do not expect them to add another starting pitcher.

Had the team not signed Daniel Nava, I would take the over. But with Nava now in the fold, even as a minor league signing, I do not expect them to pursue another outfielder.

My prediction right now and my prediction when the Bucs head to Detroit on March 29 may be different. After all, the roster could still cahnge between now and then. The Pirates may still trade Josh Harrison, add another outfielder, or some other sort of addition.

Now, that said, right now I would predict 75-78 wins for the Pirates. They could win more without surprising me, say Chad Kuhl takes the next step as a starting pitcher, Colin Moran lives up to his top-100 prospect status, and Gregory Polanco finally puts it all together, and they could bomb and lose 90 games without surprising me.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the 2018 Pirates in my opinion is that this team could win 65 games, 85 games, or fall anywhere in between without it completely surprising me. There are a lot of variables, unknowns, and potential with this team right now.

Next: Esteban Loaiza: baseball's Walter White

That will do it for this week. As always, thank you to everyone who participated in the Twitter mailbag. If you ever have a question, just watch for the Tweet asking for mailbag questions on Twitter each week.