Final record prediction - 74-88
The 2023 season should be one that sees the Pittsburgh Pirates take a big step forward on the field. If it is not, then Derek Shelton will be looking for a new job and the Pirates will be looking for a new manager.
There are a lot of reasons to expect improvement this season. The Pirate lineup could quietly be solid. While they will likely striekout a lot, it is a lineup that should have plenty of power. Especially with a full season of Oneil Cruz and the infusion of bats such as Carlos Santana and Andrew McCutchen.
The starting rotation could be sneaky good. Mitch Keller and Roansy Contreras will be the least talked about 1-2 punch in baseball while Rich Hill is a really good no. 3. Talented prospects such as Mike Burrows, Luis Ortiz, and Quinn Priester will all bolster the rotation as the season goes on.
However, the bullpen could be the worst in the NL. Hell, it might be the worst in baseball. This woeful bullpen combined with a rotation that could have questions at the back end early in the season and a lineup that still needs to have a bit more length will still hold the team back.
When it's all said and done, this team goes 74-88. That would be a 12 win improvement over last season. While 74 wins is not what anyone wants, a 12 win improvement is a huge step forward. Also, there should be a real light at the end of the rebuilding tunnel when the season ends. Their 74-88 record gets them a 3rd place finish in the NL Central ahead of the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds.