The 2019 regular season is just three weeks away from starting. What can fans expect from the Pittsburgh Pirates this season?
The Pittsburgh Pirates are entering the season in hopes to build on their win total from 2018. The team won 82 games last year and had only 79 losses with a game against the Miami Marlins canceled due to weather that was never made it up.
The fact that the team had a winning record was a big deal. The early projections were that the Pittsburgh Pirates would have somewhere in the mid-70s in terms of wins, therefore have a losing record. Instead, by the beginning of August, the team was in the playoff hunt. Now, by the end, the team ended up well outside of the playoff picture, but it was a much better season than many predicted. This was mainly because of the team’s starting pitching and bullpen.
Entering the 2019 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates once again will rely on their pitching staff to lead the team. A whole year of starter Chris Archer and setup reliever Keone Kela should make the team’s pitching staff legitimate from the outset. Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching had a lot of questions surrounding them in regards to their abilities. This year the expectation is for them to be the best starting fice in the NL Central.
So if that is the case and the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup can take a step forward, then they should be in good position to compete for a playoff spot. However, that is not the general consensus from some of the major media outlets. USA Today released their annual win-loss predictions for the upcoming season. They have the Pittsburgh Pirates finishing in fourth place in front of the Cincinnati Reds. Here are the overall projections for the National League Central:
Chicago Cubs: 89-73
St. Louis Cardinals: 89-73
Milwaukee Brewers: 89-73
Pittsburgh Pirates: 76-86
Cincinnati Reds: 75-87
So, based off of USA Today’s predictions, they do not feel the Pittsburgh Pirates are in a much better position than they were last year. Meanwhile, they are projecting the top of the National League Central race to be a tightly contested one, with all three teams having the same exact records. Gabe Lacques, the writer of the predictions, reference that the Bucs lack of free agent involvement as a reason why they will struggle:
"“Regret doesn’t seem to exist in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates continued their 20-year streak of not committing so much as $60 million to one player.”"
Fortunately, the team outperformed their projections last year and once again should be able to this year. If the team only has 76 wins, then something most likely went wrong, whether it be major injuries or simply the pitching staff not performing to their expectations.