Chicago Cubs: Tough rotation leads Pittsburgh into battle at Wrigley
Q: What are your expectations for the Pirates this year? Do you think they have enough to contend in a loaded NL Central?
A: Quietly, Neal Huntington has assembled a great pitching staff. The Pirates rotation, in my opinion, is the best in the NL Central and among the five best in the NL. They also have a top 5 bullpen in the NL when healthy (key setup man Kyle Crick is currently on the IL).
When you can pitch, you can win. Due to this, I expect the Pirates to finish over .500 and compete for a postseason berth. I do not believe the Pirates will make the postseason, but I expect them to be in contention into September.
The guy who takes the ball opposite Jon Lester on Monday, Jameson Taillon, heads the rotation. But Pittsburgh has done little to capitalize on their talented young right-hander so far. He tied for the league lead with a pair of complete games last season, making 32 starts for the Bucs. Will the front office finally build enough around him to get back to the postseason?
Q: Will the front office wind up wasting their prime years of control over Jameson Taillon?
A: Hopefully not, but if the front office doesn’t give Huntington a bigger budget it’s possible. You do not have to be among the league leaders in payroll to be a postseason team. The Pirates, A’s, and Rays have all proved this multiple times in the past decade. But a $75M payroll just is not going to cut it.