Alex Henry – Staff Writer
The MLB Season has just gotten underway.
With that said, where will the Pittsburgh Pirates stack up to the stiff competition in the NL central division?
Here are five keys for the Pittsburgh Pirates to have a successful season.
The Pirates are coming off a 78-83 record last season its worst since the 2012 campaign.
The first key is for starting pitcher Gerrit Cole to reestablish himself as an ace for the Pirates.
Cole struggled last season as his ERA was 3.88 compared to a combined ERA of 2.93 in his first three seasons in the league.
It is important for every team in MLB to have that one guy in its rotation they can routinely rely upon to be consistent, and last season Cole lacked that consistency.
Only time will tell if Cole can rebound this year.
The second key is for the Pirates young outfielders Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte to repeat and build upon their seasons from last year.
Polanco batted .258 last year along with 22 home runs, 86 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.
As for Marte, he averaged .311 last season while hitting nine home runs, 46 RBIs and 47 stolen bases.
These two guys will have to continue their offensive production in the middle of the Pirates lineup for Pittsburgh to have a successful season.
The third key is right fielder and former MVP Andrew McCutchen who struggled last season batting .256.
The three previous years combined from 2013-15, McCutchen hit .307.
The club’s decision to keep McCutchen after all the rumors during the hot stove of the MLB off season weather to trade him or keep him will be heavily examined to if they made the right decision.
Only time can tell if McCutchen will return to his former MVP self or if last season was the start of a trend rather than a fluke.
If the Pirates will be successful this season, it will start with its leader McCutchen.
The fourth key involves all three of the Pirates outfielders: Polanco, Marte and McCutchen.
Each of them will be a different defensive position then they have in seasons past.
Polanco will make the switch from right field to left field, Marte from left to center and McCutchen from center field to right field.
This decision was made based off the Pirates belief of where those three players would be best served playing going forward. McCutchen has been a liability in the outfield in years past for his below average arm.
The Pirates will attempt to his McCutchen’s arm in right field, while they put Marte who has a tremendous arm and better range in center.
This news was announced after the club decided to keep McCutchen.
The last key for the Pirates this season will be for them to have one of its top prospects starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow to step up and be a major contributor this season.
Last season, Glasnow had four starts before getting injured and his performance was lackluster with an ERA of 4.24 in 24.1 innings at the MLB level.
The Pirates have made the decision for Glasnow to be the fifth starter for the team to start this season; the consensus top 10 prospect in all of baseball at the start of last season can truly provide the depth in the rotation this team needs to be competitive in the NL central this year.
If these five keys work out for the Pirates during the 2017 season, I fully expect them to make its fourth appearance in the last five seasons.
With all of that said, the season is young and the unexpectedly can always arise in sport via an injury or trade.