Pittsburgh Pirates 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the NL Central?

Owner Bob Nutting cleaned house after the Pirates finished in last place in the National League Central last season for the first time since 2010. Club president Frank Coonelly, general manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle were fired. In their place are Travis Williams, Ben Cherington and Derek Shelton. Cherington has a World Series title to his credit as general manager of the 2013 Boston Red Sox. However, he has plenty of work to do to turn around a team that went 69–93 last season, including a 25–48 mark after the All-Star break when the Pirates had multiple clubhouse incidents. Shelton gets his first opportunity to manage at the major league level. He spent 15 seasons on big-league staffs, including the last two as the Minnesota Twins’ bench coach.

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates logo“Derek Shelton will change the culture here, and they really need it. They won’t contend, but he can bring them back to respectability. The rotation shouldn’t be as bad as it was last year — Trevor Williams came back too quickly from injury, with no finish on his fastball, but he’s a solid guy. Joe Musgrove can be a borderline All-Star, and Chris Archer was better after ditching the two-seamer; he needs to incorporate more first-pitch curveballs to steal strike one and stay out of bad counts. I’d love to see Keone Kela settle in as closer; he gets a bad rap, but his stuff is legit — 98 with a really tight curve that can be lethal. Bryan Reynolds won’t be a big power guy, but he’s one of the best pure hitters out there — he takes an identical swing from both sides of the plate. Kevin Newman is a really good bat-to-ball guy. Josh Bell has tremendous hand-eye coordination, and he finally started getting his foot down on time and made the All-Star team. But if he starts out hot again, the Pirates should sell high on him.”

 

Beyond the Box Score

 

Golden pipes Lefthander Steven Brault majored in vocal performance at Regis University in Denver and has twice sung the national anthem before home games at PNC Park. Brault took singing a step further once last season ended. He recorded a Broadway-themed album titled “A Pitch to Broadway.” Producer Lorien Harriet approached Brault about the idea. Harriet has worked with other baseball players with musical dreams, including Bronson Arroyo, Nick Swisher, Bernie Williams and Barry Zito. Brault has sung in a classic rock band in the San Diego area during previous offseasons.

 

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Winter in SoCal Righthander Chris Archer had a miserable 2019, going 3–9 with a 5.19 ERA in 23 starts. He also missed the last five weeks of the season because of a strained shoulder. To try to get his career back on track, the 31-year-old spent a good portion of the offseason working out in Southern California rather than at his home in North Carolina. Archer made two All-Star game appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays, who traded him to the Pirates in 2018.

 

Shouldering the load Right fielder Gregory Polanco is expected to have no restrictions when spring training begins after being limited to 42 games last season while recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left shoulder. However, the Pirates realize Polanco may need more days off over the course of his career to rest the shoulder. He is signed through 2021 as part of a five-year, $35 million contract that includes club options for 2022 and 2023.

 

Looking to Leyland When Derek Shelton was hired as manager, one of the first people he got in touch with was Jim Leyland, because he wanted to learn how to relate to the fans of Pittsburgh. Leyland began his major league managerial career with the Pirates in 1986 and had an 11-year stint before moving on to three other teams. Though Leyland is from Perrysburg, Ohio, he has made Pittsburgh home since his rookie year as a skipper and remains a popular figure in the city.

 

First timer Oscar Marin is getting his first opportunity to be a major league pitching coach as he replaces the well-respected Ray Searage. The 37-year-old Marin has just one year of experience on a big league staff, as he was the Texas Rangers’ bullpen coach last season. However, he developed a strong reputation during his time as a pitching coach in the Rangers’ and Mariners’ farm systems.

 

Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

SS     Kevin Newman (R)

2B     Adam Frazier (L)

LF     Bryan Reynolds (S)

1B     Josh Bell (S)

RF     Gregory Polanco (L)

3B     Colin Moran (L)

CF     Jarrod Dyson (L)

C       Jacob Stallings (R)

 

BENCH

C      Luke Maile (R)

UT    Erik Gonzalez (R)

UT    Kevin Kramer (L)

UT    Jose Osuna (R)

OF    Guillermo Heredia (R)

 

ROTATION

RHP     Jose Musgrove

RHP     Chris Archer

RHP     Trevor Williams

RHP     Mitch Keller

LHP     Steven Brault

 

BULLPEN

RHP     Keone Kela (C)

RHP     Kyle Crick
RHP     Richard Rodriguez

RHP     Michael Feliz

RHP     Chris Stratton

RHP     Nick Burdi

RHP     Dovydas Neverauskas

RHP     Clay Holmes

 

2020 Prediction: 5th in NL Central

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