Jays From the Couch brings you 2016 MLB Wrap Ups. This time, we sit down with Pirates Breakdown to chat Buccos!
Jays From the Couch is kicking off a little series of wrap ups of teams around MLB. We’ll sit down with writers from all over the league to get their thoughts on teams we might not have been paying attention to in Blue Jays Land. This time: Pittsburgh Pirates
This time, we chatted with Jason Rollison, the founder of Pirates Breakdown to get his take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. They had an interesting year, finishing 8.5 games out of the National League Wild Card spot and a whopping 25 games back of the Cubs, who won 103. After a few years of hanging around the playoff picture, the Pirates took a step back in 2016. They’re an intriguing squad that is looking to get back the postseason and maybe even surpassing their Wild Card run.
You can Follow Jason on Twitter @rollisonwrites and be sure to head to Pirates Breakdown and check out their great Pirates coverage! Follow them on Twitter @pbcbreakdown
JFtC: If you could sum up the Pirates’ season in a paragraph, what would you say?
PBD: The Pittsburgh Pirates returned a lot of their 98-win team from 2015. Unfortunately that alone could not save the team from dropping off to the tune of 20 less wins in 2016. From the jump, a starting rotation held together by spit and prayer put pressure on the Pirates’ bullpen to be more than great. Down years by major cogs such as Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano and Andrew McCutchen amounted to missteps that the Pirates could not get past. After slogging through summer, it was clear that the three-year run of playoff appearances in PItsburgh was coming to a close.
JFtC: What went right for the Pirates this year?
PBD: The youth movement. Top-flight prospects in starters Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon and OF/1B Josh Bell all made their debuts, but other less heralded prospects got some time in as well. Most, if not all, look to be productive MLB players.
JFtC: What went wrong for them?
PBD: Starting pitching. General manager Neal Huntington tried to build a bridge to those prospects I mentioned above, and it resulted in the likes of Jon Niese and Ryan Vogelsong making starts for what should have been a playoff team. 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen had easily the worst season of his career, and it put the Pirates’ run production behind the 8-ball rather quickly.
JFtC: Who stood out on the roster?
PBD: Jameson Taillon is the real deal. His journey to the majors was star-crossed with injury, but once he got there, he looked like a three year veteran. Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte also took huge leaps forward. David Freese was a very late Spring Training signing who delivered in a big way. Sean Rodriguez, career utility man, set career highs in batting average, home runs and RBI.
JFtC: Who went under appreciated?
PBD: Jung Ho Kang had worked so hard to come back from the gruesome injury he suffered at the hands, or should I say the feet, of noted dirty player Chris Coghlan, that many did not appreciate how good he was in his return. After finding his footing, Kang finished the season with 21 home runs and 62 RBI, both a step forward from his rookie year.
JFtC: Who underperformed?
PBD: Many did, but Gerrit Cole’s lackluster 2016 season stands out. The Pittsburgh Pirates are a small market team, and as such they need their stars to perform like stars. Cole was anything but.
JFtC: Where the Bucs go this offseason? What do they do?
PBD: The Pirates will undoubtedly look for starting pitching first and foremost, followed by bullpen help. This team is pretty well-set on the diamond, so any bats acquired will strictly be of the bench variety. There is always the looming question of when the right time to trade Andrew McCutchen will be. Some feel it could happen this winter. If it does, all plans fly out the window as the Pirates will then be embarking on significant change.
JFtC: What can fans expect from them in 2017?
PBD: The Pirates will still be a GOOD team, no doubt about it. But the lofty 2015 win total of 98 wins just isn’t in the cards. I would expect the Pirates to win at LEAST 85 games, with a shot at 90 if things break right.
HUGE ‘Thank you to Jason fro taking the time to wrap up the Pirates 2016 season! Make sure you go to Pirates Breakdown for all of their great coverage!
*Don’t miss our Wrap up of the New York Yankees!*
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.