2020 Pittsburgh Pirates Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
When will these cities learn to stop building stadiums for rich sports franchise owners? There is no better stadium in Major League Baseball than Pittsburgh's spectacular PNC Park, but it hasn't translated to much success on the field and this is still one of the most tight-fisted organizations in the majors.
The Bucs had that three-year stretch (2013-15) where they were a Wild-Card team, but they missed the postseason a fourth year in a row in 2019 and won 69 games, the team's fewest since 2009.
While the roster won't look hugely different this year, the coaching staff and front office sure will. Gone are manager Clint Hurdle, president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington. In are GM Ben Cherington (formerly a Red Sox GM), president Travis Williams (from the NHL's Penguins) and manager Derek Shelton. It's the first MLB managerial job for Shelton after he spent the past two seasons as bench coach with the Minnesota Twins. Prior to that, he was a hitting coach with the Rays and Indians.
Shelton also was a minor-league manager in the early 2000s in the Yankees' organization. He had previously interviewed for managerial jobs with the Twins, Rangers and Mets. The Pirates chose Shelton over Matt Quatraro, the Rays' bench coach.
Pittsburgh opens the season with an interleague matchup at the Rays on March 26.
Pirates 2020 Projected Lineup
In late January, the Pirates traded one of their best players, outfielder Starling Marte, to Arizona for two prospects. Marte had been the longest-tenured Pirate and was set to be the highest-paid in 2020 but at a pretty reasonable $11.5 million. He hit .295 with 23 homers, 82 RBIs and 25 steals in 132 games last year. Isn't that a guy you want to keep?
The lineup now is basically outfielder Gregory Polanco, All-Star first baseman Josh Bell and a bunch of guys you probably don't know of. Bell blew up last year in hitting .277 with 37 homers and 116 RBIs. He will make only $4.8 million this season and has two more years of team control left, so it would shock no one if Bell is also dealt eventually. The Pittsburgh infield actually isn't too bad offensively with Bell, Adam Frazier at second, Kevin Newman at short and Colin Moran at third.
Polanco is the highest-paid player now at $7 million. He had a nice 2018 season but was limited to 42 games last year due to injury. Last August, the team put long-time catcher Francisco Cervelli in waivers. He used to be one of the better ones in the NL but his 2019 season was ruined by multiple concussions.
Here's the projected lineup:
2B Adam Frazier (L)
OF Bryan Reynolds (B)
OF Gregory Polanco (L)
1B Josh Bell (B)
3B Colin Moran (L)
SS Kevin Newman (R)
OF Jason Martin (L)
C Luke Maile/Jason Stallings
Pirates 2020 Projected Rotation & Closer
Pittsburgh's starters combined to record a 5.40 ERA last year, the fifth-highest mark in the majors.
The most talented Pirates pitcher will not be seen in 2020 as Jameson Taillon underwent a second career Tommy John surgery last August. The Opening Day starter pitched his last game of 2019 on May 2 and left early with a right elbow flexor strain. Just a shame as he was coming into his own in 2018 with 14 wins and a 3.20 ERA.
In late-July 2018, the Bucs traded starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Austin Meadows to Tampa for then-Rays ace Chris Archer, but that has backfired in worst possible way for Pittsburgh. Archer had a 5.19 ERA last year in 23 starts and is the second-highest paid player on the team. Glasnow and Meadows have been great (when healthy) for the Rays.
Joe Musgrove led the Pirates with 11 wins, a 4.44 ERA and 175 strikeouts. Solid back-end guy but shouldn't be the ace. Trevor Williams was a huge surprise in 2018 but as expected came crashing back to earth in 2019. Mitch Keller was 1-5 with a 7.13 ERA and only 48 innings pitched in 11 starts but is a former touted prospect.
Here's how the rotation should shake out:
Chad Kuhl could factor in here; he hasn't pitched in the majors since June 26, 2018, due to Tommy John surgery. Felipe Vazquez was a terrific closer the past few seasons but is dealing with some major legal problems in Florida involving an underage girl so he probably never pitches in MLB again and may not be a free man for a while. Keona Kela probably gets the first crack at the job.
Pirates Futures Odds
Pittsburgh is given a win total of 71.5 (both -110). The Pirates are +5000 to win the NL Central, +10000 for the pennant and +25000 to win the World Series. Bell is +10000 to lead the majors in homers.
Pirates 2020 Predictions
The Bucs really blew it not dealing Vazquez at least year's Trade Deadline. They gave him a four-year extension before the 2018 season and were shopping him. At least they don't have to pay him now, I suppose. It's too bad the Pirates aren't trying because the Central Division looks very winnable in 2020 with no great teams. Simply because that division is mediocre, Pittsburgh can win around 75 games. Go "over" that win total.
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