The offense looks strong, the bullpen and bench are solid, and the starting pitching, while a question mark, has its two top guns, Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole, starting the season off healthy. Remember, both hit the DL by midseason last year; their continued health would be a great boost for the Pirates' 2015 chances.
|The Pirates embark on the 2015 cruise (image from Assassin's Creed)|
The Pitching Matchup: Frankie has been the Bucs' top gun for the past two seasons, going 23-18 with a 3.20 ERA and 338 K in 323-1/3 IP. He hasn't fared well against Cincy, though, and is 0-5 with a 4.14 ERA in the regular season against them. But he does have that one win in the post-season against the Reds and this afternoon's opponent, Johnny Cueto. Cueto is not only one of the NL's top moundsmen, but has been especially hard on the Pirates. His career record against the Buccos is 18-4 record with a 2.21 ERA. Johnny was especially brutal last season, putting up a 5-0 record and 1.76 ERA vs the Pirates.
The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Starling Marte LF, Pedro 1B, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS, Liriano P.
Love Marte in the middle of the order and c'mon - admit that Jordy Mercer batting eighth beats Ronny Cedeno or Clint Barmes there, right?