Chicago Cubs’ promising 2016 odds not yet set in stone
The constant scrappiness of the Pirates
For the third-consecutive year, the Pittsburgh Pirates played October baseball in 2015. And an overwhelming amount of credit should be given to pitching coach Ray Searage, who has had an effect surpassing even that of Chris Bosio in Chicago since his arrival.
Pittsburgh has the likes of Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano atop its starting rotation with a mix of old and new slotted in being them.
Longtime big league veteran A.J. Burnett hung up his spikes following the Bucs’ Wild Card Game loss to the Cubs last October, leaving a hole in the middle of the Pirates’ staff – one that was quickly filled in the additions of left-hander Jon Niese and veteran Ryan Vogelsong.
Niese was acquired in the deal that sent Neil Walker to the Mets, filling a void for New York and clearing up the Pittsburgh logjam up the middle. It is widely expected that Jung-ho Kang will shift over to the hot corner, allowing Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison to handle things up the middle.
Niese, meanwhile, has more opportunity in the Steel City than he’s had in years in the Big Apple. Forced out of the picture by that team’s outstanding crop of young arms, he now has a chance to prove himself under Searage.
Add these two solid arms to an offense that features Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte and it’s once again apparent that Pittsburgh will scrap their way toward the top of the division again this year.
Next: Adding a big bat still in the Cards