For much of the season last year it looked as though the Pirates could break their streak of losing seasons and possibly make the playoffs. However, a weak performance over the last weeks of the season dropped their record below .500, with the Pirates ending the season 79-83. Their 2012 mark set an MLB record for the most consecutive losing seasons at 20. After improving but closing the last season with a losing record, the Pittsburgh Pirates hope to finally turn a corner.
If Pittsburgh has any hope of changing their fortunes in 2013 they will have to lean heavily on perennial all-star OF Andrew McCutchen. Even with the Pirates’ struggles last season, McCutchen managed to finish third in NL-MVP voting posting a .327 batting average and blasting 31 home runs. Pittsburgh will need a repeat performance from Andrew McCutchen, as well a break out year from OF Starling Marte and solid production from third baseman Pedro Alvarez, if they hope to stand any chance of breaking their 20 year losing season streak.
With the uncertainty in the back end the pitching rotation, starting pitchers A.J. Burnett and James McDonald will need to be consistent and solid at the top of the rotation. The likely 4th and 5th starters in the rotation are Jeff Karstens and Jeff Locke, but neither has ever produced a double digit victory season in their careers. This leaves the door open to the possibility that, by halfway through the season, one or both of the Pirates’ top two pitching prospects (Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon) might make an appearance in the rotation.
SP Gerrit Cole is the most likely to be called up of the two. Cole made it to the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate last season and will start the season there. SP Jameson Taillon is more of a long-shot to be called up, but if he continues to improve as he did last year he could be a September call up.
There is a lot of pressure on organization and players to turn around the fate of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013. The Pirates will be fighting a tough battle, however, as they did not do much this offseason to improve their lot. Expect much of the same this season as we’ve seen for the last 20 years from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Projected 2013 Record: 74-88.