Pittsburgh Pirates 2019: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the NL Central?

The Pirates hope to build on the momentum of the final three months of the 2018 season to contend in 2019. General manager Neal Huntington believes that he helped paved the way for better days last July when he traded for Tampa Bay righthander Chris Archer and Texas reliever Keone Kela. The Pirates wound up finishing 82–79, better than expected following the winter trades of Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole.


It was only the franchise’s fourth winning record in 26 years, and it was still only good enough for a fourth-place finish in the National League Central behind the Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals. All three teams look strong again in 2019 — and the Reds will be improved as well — meaning the Pirates will have their work cut out, though the team believes that it is on the rise.

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates logo“These guys are the sleeper team for 2019. They should be in almost every game with a solid starting effort just about every night, and a strong bullpen that really has two closers: lefty Felipe Vazquez and righty Keone Kela. The question is whether they’ll score enough to win 85-90 games. They fired their hitting coaches and will try to generate more power from the lineup, especially at the corners; Josh Bell, Colin Moran and Jung-Ho Kang are all skilled hitters who need to rediscover their 20-homer power. Corey Dickerson will get back there; he made a conscious effort last season to work on his two-strike approach and reduce his strikeouts. They’ll miss Gregory Polanco in the first half as he recovers from his shoulder injury, but Lonnie Chisenhall is a competent replacement. Jameson Taillon will be this year’s Aaron Nola, a stealth Cy Young candidate who’s ready to move into the game’s elite. The wild card is Chris Archer; will a full year with pitching coach Ray Searage get him back to his All-Star form? I wouldn’t bet against it.”


Beyond the Box Score

Open Season Four jobs in the starting rotation appear to be set with righthanders Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove. The Pirates are contemplating using an “opener” for the fifth spot. The Tampa Bay Rays hatched the idea last season of having a reliever be the opener, pitching an inning or two to start the game before being replaced by a traditional starter. The idea is to have the opener face the toughest part of the lineup while limiting the “follower’s” exposure to just two times through the batting order.


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Finally Here The Pirates selected Lonnie Chisenhall in the 11th round of the 2006 draft from West Carteret High School in Morehead City, N.C. Twelve years later, he finally signed with the team. The Pirates landed the right fielder in free agency with a one-year, $2.75 million contract in November after he spent the first eight seasons of his major league career with the Cleveland Indians. Chisenhall turned down the Pirates in ’06 and attended the University of South Carolina, then Pitt Community College in Winterville, N.C. He was the Indians’ first-round draft pick in 2008.


No Thanks General manager Neal Huntington turned down a chance to interview for the San Francisco Giants’ president of baseball operations job at the end of last season. Huntington has three years remaining on his contract and says he “feels a sense of commitment” to the Pirates, who hired him late in the 2007 season.
Title drought The Pirates ended their 20-year postseason drought by reaching the playoffs in 2013 as a winner of the Wild Card (when there was only one). They also reached the postseason in 2014 and ’15, but they still have not won a division title since 1992, when they won the last of three straight NL East titles. 


Please Come Back The Pirates are still in the process of trying to win back the fans who were angered by the trades of 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, a 19-game winner in 2015, a month before spring training began last year. The displeasure showed at the gate as the Pirates’ attendance was down 454,131 in 2018 from the year before, dropping from 1,919,447 to 1,465,316.


Venetian Vacation Catcher Francisco Cervelli wanted to get away from things at the end of last season, so he returned to his family’s roots. Cervelli and his mother vacationed in Venice, Italy. Cervelli was born and raised in Venezuela, but his dad is from Italy.


Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

2B  Adam Frazier (L)
CF  Starling Marte (R)
LF  Corey Dickerson (L)
C   Francisco Cervelli (R)
3B  Colin Moran (L)
1B  Josh Bell (S)
RF  Lonnie Chisenhall (L)
SS  Erik Gonzalez (R)

 

BENCH

C    Elias Diaz (R)
INF  Jung Ho Kang (R)
UT  Pablo Reyes (R)
UT  Jose Osuna (R)

 

ROTATION

RHP  Jameson Taillon
RHP  Chris Archer
RHP  Trevor Williams
RHP  Joe Musgrove
RHP  Jordan Lyles

 

BULLPEN

LHP  Felipe Vazquez (C)
RHP  Keone Kela
RHP  Richard Rodriguez
RHP  Kyle Crick
LHP  Steven Brault
RHP  Michael Feliz
RHP  Nick Burdi
RHP  Nick Kingham

 

2019 PREDICTION

5th NL Central 

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