Article Written By: Julian Beck
2013 Record: 94-68 ( 2nd place in NL Central)
Key Additions: Edinson Volquez, Chris Stewart
Key Loses: A.J. Burnett (unsigned), Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau, John Buck
Impact players for 2014: Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte, Russell Martin, Francsico Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Jason Grilli
For the first time since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates reached the playoffs this past season, falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games in the NLDS. With a good, young core of players who should only get better moving forward, they look to be in position to contend for years to come. Though they lost a few key players that helped them with their playoff run in 2013, they signed a few free agents that may help with their losses.
Edison Volquez has been very inconsistent in his career, but looks to bounce back like Francsico Liriano did in Pittsburgh. Volquez is a productive pitcher when he’s throwing strikes. He has a tendency to be a “wild” pitcher, walking the whole yard. When he starts walking batters, he will not make it out of the 4th inning because of his pitch count. Clint Hurdle looks to help with that. Hurdle has done an amazing job with Liriano, who was known for walking too many batters. Volquez looks to have a bounce back year, and he can thank the Pirates coaching staff.
As for the rest of the starting rotation, the team will lean upon Gerrit Cole, and Francisco Liriano to be as dominant as they were in 2013. Loosing AJ Burnett will hurt in the beginning of the year. Burnett was the savvy veteran that knew how to get out of jams and throw deep into games.
His replacement, Cole has a power fastball that has been clocked at 100+ mph. His only downgrade is that he is not a strikeout pitcher. He is very hittable, but luckily they are ground balls that his defense is able to vacuum up and collect outs.
Liriano is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. With his great fastball, slider, and change-up, he is able to shut down any offense any time he steps out on that mound. He will be called upon to be the ace in 2014 and looks to continue his dominance. With Jason Grilli coming in to close out the 9th inning, the starting pitchers should be in good hands to collect their wins.
The Pirates are carried by young players in Andre McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, and Starling Marte. McCutchen is one of the best and most liked players in all of baseball. Getting it done in the batters box and out in center field, McCutchen has great power to all gaps and has the power that can help drive the ball over the fence. With his speed, look for McCutchen to rack up the doubles and RBIs.
Alvarez is the power monster on this roster, being able to hit a homer out of any stadium. He does strikeout at a high rate, but he plays for a full season so it all cancels out after he produces 30+ home runs and 90+ RBIs.
Marte is the young guy that has great potential. He is a great lead-off hitter with his speed, being able to beat out infield singles and being able to steal at any moment. He is a great table setter for the power hitters in the line-up.