Publish date:

4 PIRATES

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP PITTSBURGH

The toughest job on the club isn't manager, it's pitching coach. The rotation's just a lot of fours and fives. Tyler Glasnow is in the mix and has easily got the best stuff, but he'll throw a great snappy fastball then come back with worst hanging breaking ball you ever saw.... Corey Dickerson is gonna hit; it's a good park for him. Starling Marté and Gregory Polanco can cover up for Dickerson's range. Those two get to everything.... Marté is a great athlete, but I thought he'd have more power than he's shown. Polanco is a top-shelf defender, and he's got speed. If those two don't hit home runs, the Pirates are in trouble. Well, they are anyway.... Josh Harrison is a valuable superutility guy, but he's not very happy. He wanted to get traded. I'll be shocked if he ends the season there.... Josh Bell is a DH playing first base. He doesn't have good hands, good range or good feet around the bag. Other than that, he's fine! ... If Kevin Siegrist can be a lefty late-inning reliever, that would be big, but he pitched about every day in St. Louis. How much is left in the arm? ... When Russell Martin left after 2014, the pitching staff went into a funk. He's that good defensively and he's a leader. But Francisco Cervelli is a good offensive catcher and the pitchers are more comfortable with him.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

Pirates fans no doubt felt burned this offseason, when the team traded away not only staff ace Gerrit Cole (to the Astros), but also the face of the franchise, Andrew McCutchen (who went to the Giants). Bringing fans back to PNC Park to support a team that projects to finish fourth in the NL Central won't be easy. Selling them on Jameson Taillon is a start. The No. 2 overall pick in 2010, Taillon returned from testicular cancer, diagnosed last May, to show flashes of the No. 1 starter he may become one day. He allowed no more than one run in nine of his 25 starts, no more than two runs in 16. Taillon struck out a solid 21.3% of the batters he faced, with 2.72 strikeouts for every walk. Now healthy, Taillon has the pedigree and the story to become the new fan favorite.

OVER / UNDER

73

Starling Marté, Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon could be the core of an eventual contender, but a sell-off is very likely to come this summer.

THE LINEUP

1. SECOND BASE

Josh Harrison

.324 OBP/11 HR/13 SB

2. LEFTFIELD

Corey Dickerson

.473 SLG/22 HR/3 SB

3. CENTERFIELD

Starling Marté

.282 BA/15 HR/28 SB

4. FIRST BASE

Josh Bell

.459 SLG/21 HR/3 SB

5. CATCHER

Francisco Cervelli

.259 BA/5 HR/1 SB

FANTASY BREAKOUT

6. RIGHTFIELD

Gregory Polanco

.268 BA/18 HR/15 SB

Various injuries have held him back over the years, but a healthy Polanco still offers 20-20 potential.

7. THIRD BASE

Colin Moran

.259 BA/11 HR/1 SB

8. SHORTSTOP

Jordy Mercer

.261 BA/11 HR/1 SB

THE STAFF

1. RH STARTER

Jameson Taillon

11 W/3.95 ERA/1.28 WHP

2. RH STARTER

Iván Nova

9 W/4.47 ERA/1.35 WHP

3. RH STARTER

Joe Musgrove

9 W/4.06 ERA/1.29 WHP

4. RH STARTER

Chad Kuhl

9 W/4.42 ERA/1.39 WHP

CLOSER

Felipe Rivero

31 SV/3.05 ERA/11.2 K9

THE SKIPPER

Clint Hurdle