Pirates 2017 Season Preview
Ready to check out our 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates predictions? The season rests on Andrew McCutchen’s health, but it’s going to be tough for this Pittsburgh Pirates team to be anything more than third fiddle in a NL Central division that includes the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals.
MLB Pirates Predictions & Handicapping Insight
Manager Clint Hurdle returns for his seventh season with the Pirates and will be looking for a season more like 2015 (98-64) as opposed to 2016 (78-83) but it’s going to be tough considering the teams that surround Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
Pittsburgh fans need another taste of the postseason after three extremely successful years from 2013-2015 and hope that last year was just a simple, disappointing anomaly.
2017 MLB Team Previews – Pittsburgh Pirates
- National League Central +700
- National League +1500
- World Series +3300
- Daniel Hudson
- Kevin Gosselin
This team didn’t make a lot of offseason acquistions, instead electing to focus on promoting from within.
There are multiple young prospects poised to make some waves in the MLB this season and Pirates fans should be excited considering this is the team’s motus operandi. Andrew McCutchen was a prospect turned star in the Pittsburgh system, if you recall.
That being said, the key addition for this team was righty setup pitcher Daniel Hudson. Coming over from Arizona, Hudson had a rough go of it last season. He posted a 5.22 ERA in 60.1 innings played, while giving up 65 hits.
The Pirates will look for Hudson to set up closer Tony Watson in many late-game situations and the team will hope that he’ll be a positive addition to a pretty decent bullpen.
- Ryan Vogelsong
- Jeff Lock
- Matt Joyce
- Neftali Feliz
With the loss of starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, the Pirates have spots in the starting rotation that are question marks right now.
Dealing Vogelsong opens up spots down the road for prospects like Tyler Glasnow and Chad Kuhl, but right now everything is up in the air for the two spots that aren’t claimed by Cole, Taillon, or Ivan Nova.
Pirates Predictions: Projected Lineup:
- 2B Josh Harrison
- 1B Josh Bell
- RF Andrew McCutchen
- CF Starling Marte
- LF Gregory Polanco
- 3B Jung Ho Kang
- C Francisco Cervelli
- SS Jordy Mercer
The key to this lineup is of course Andrew McCutchen. If Cutch stays healthy and gets back to the form we saw from 2012-2015, the Pirates could have a solid season.
If he doesn’t play up to the level we all know he’s capable of, it’s going to be a long year for Pittsburgh fans.
Last year, McCutchen had his worst year since becoming a key member of the Pirates. He had 24 homers but just 79 RBIs and a .256 batting average – the lowest of his career.
His OBP was down from .401 in 2015 to .336 in 2016 and his base running took a hit as well. He stole just six bases all year and was caught stealing seven times.
Starling Marte will also need to have a quality season to help the Pirates win in the NL Central. His homers were down from 19 in 2015 to just nine last season and the Pittsburgh faithful would like to see that number climb back up to 15-20.
The encouraging stat is that his batting average was the best of his career in 2016 at .311 and that aspect of his game needs to stay the same.
Pirates Predictions: Projected Rotation:
- RH Gerrit Cole
- LH Jameson Taillon
- RH TBD
- RH Ivan Nova
- RH TBD
Three of the five in the Pittsburgh rotation are set, but the other two spots are still up in the air right now. Right hander Gerrit Cole is a solid starting pitcher, one who really regressed last season after a 19-8 record in 2015.
He was just 7-10 last year with a 3.88 ERA and the Pirates desperately need him to up his wins and lower that ERA or this team is going to have a tough time winning.
Ivan Nova was big for the Pirates in the back half of last season after being acquired from the Yankees. He was 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 11 starts and he’ll be vital to this team’s success this season.
Pirates Predictions: Projected Closer:
- LH Tony Watson
For now, Tony Watson is the closer for this team but there’s no telling if he’ll be a Pirate come September. With the addition of Daniel Hudson, there’s always a chance that Hudson overtakes Watson as the closer and the left-hander is dealt before the deadline.
For now, it’s Watson’s job and he’ll be called upon to close out games for this team. Last season, after taking over the closer spot when Mark Melancon was dealt at the deadline, it was a shaky couple of months for Watson.
He had three blown saves in two months and posted a 3.86 ERA in that time span.
He finished with 15 saves on the season and a 3.06 ERA but he’ll need to be much better in order for this team to finish games and have a shot at moving up in the Central.
2017 Pittsburgh Pirates Prediction: 80-82 (3rd in Central)
In a division that includes the 2016 World Series Champs and a usually consistent St. Louis Cardinals team, it’s going to be tough for the Pirates to gain any ground from last year.
I project this team finished right around the .500 mark and grabs the 3rd spot in the NL Central for the second straight year.
The X-Factor will be Andrew McCutchen and what happens with those other two starting rotation spots, but it will take a lot for this team to improve on the record from last year and potentially climb into that 2nd spot ahead of the Cardinals.
What do you think of our 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates predictions? Comments are welcome below.
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