Pittsburgh Pirates Twitter Mailbag: March 5, 2018
Welcome back to the weekly Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag here at Rum Bunter
It’s that time of the week again – time for Rum Bunter’s Pittsburgh Pirates Twitter mailbag. This week’s mailbag is the first edition of the month March, which means Opening Day is right around the corner.
As always, thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s mailbag so let’s delve into the questions and begin!
These two are similar so we’ll put them together.
The 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates are not going to be nearly as bad as a lot of people in the Pittsburgh media or on Twitter will try and make you think. This team’s bullpen should be one of the best in the National League and the lineup is better than last season. However, the starting rotation has taken a step back due to the loss of Gerrit Cole.
Right now I have the 2018 Pirates pegged as a 78-80 win team due to lack of faith in the starting rotation and a lack of starting pitching depth. If the team added to their starting rotation, I would feel much better about them. Free agents such as Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn remain on the market and would help the team immensely.
Now, all of that said, if everything goes right this team can compete for a Wild Card spot. If Chad Kuhl takes the next step as a starting pitcher, the rotation will improve immensely. We’ll address Tyler Glasnow shortly. Also, if Gregory Polanco is healthy and producing, Starling Marte is not suspended, and Colin Moran turns into the hitter it appears he will become the lineup should be strong.
The issue here is that everything is not going to go right. The Pirates have zero margain for error. Outside of Nick Kingham, there is zero starting pitching depth. And Kingham may already be a better option than Kuhl, Ivan Nova, and Joe Musgrove, but for a few reasons he will not see Pittsburgh before June.
To circle back to Tyler Glasnow who was mentioned above, if he can get it all to finally click that changes things substantially. If Glasnow can pitch anywhere near the way he has at the Triple-A level then the Pirate rotation suddenly has a pair of frontline starters at the top in Jameson Taillon and Glasnow.
If the Pirates stay healthy, everyone produces as they are projected to, and either Chad Kuhl or Tyler Glasnow take the next step as a starting pitcher then the Bucs can compete for a postseason spot. The problem is, odds are, this is nowhere near how things will go.
I would like to see Elias Diaz improve as a player this season. Nothing more and nothing less.
He was a poor hitter for most of his minor league career, and has been abysmal in his Major League action. Also, he is known for his defense but he struggled immensely with framing pitches, handling the pitching staff, and blocking pitches in the dirt.
No, I do not believe he will ever be a starting catcher for the Pirates.
The final spot in the rotation is still Joe Musgrove’s to lose. While Musgrove has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game due to shoudler discomfort, he did resume throwing last week with a 25 pitch bullpen session. As long as he is healthy, he will be the fifth starter when the season begins.
Now, if Musgrove is not ready when the regular season begins in 24 days then everything changes.
Tyler Glasnow has indeed made strides this spring. In 5 innings pitched he has not walked a batter, he has only hit one, and his control has been the best and most consistent it has ever been. That said, it is only 5 innings in meaningless Spring Training games. If Musgrove starts the season on the disabled list, then I expect Glasnow to get the final rotation spot.
As for Steven Brault, the Pirates now view him as a relief pitcher. Look for him to be in the Opening Day bullpen.
And it depends on how the rotation sets up behind Taillon in Detroit. My guess is either Chad Kuhl or Trevor Williams.
Mr. Nova has never done anything to me personally. My problem with Ivan Nova is that he is not a good pitcher, he pitches for my favorite team, and he is saddled with a big contract for the next two seasons.
Ivan Nova is very good at allowing hard contact, home runs, and not generating swings and misses. Unfortunately, these things are recipes for failure for a Major League pitcher. When the Pirates gave Nova three-year contract last offseason I feared it would be a mistake, and it has been just that.
Next: Chad Kuhl can alter the entire outlook for 2018
That will do it for this week. Remember to always watch for our Tweet each week asking for questions for that week’s mailbag if you ever have a question.