After what seemed to be a decent first two months of the 2016 baseball season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the organization had high hopes to keep up with the Chicago Cubs, who are on pace to set records this season, but once the calendar turned to June, the team took a turn for the worse. At 38-41, the Pirates sat in third place in the National League Central division behind the juggernaut Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals heading into the month of July.
After a deplorable record of 9-18 in June, the Pirates still are in a tough spot right now. Fortunately, they have started off the month of July with a three game series sweep in the Bay Area against the Oakland Athletics. They currently sit 10.5 games out of first place and 2.5 games out of second place.
The Pirates have prospects that have already came up to make their Major League debut, such as Jameson Taillon, who led the Pirates to victory on July 29th with a quality start and a win in an 8-1 Pirates victory, and they have prospects who have yet to make their debut, but will most likely make their debuts within the next few months. The next two players that will most likely make their Major League debut is Josh Bell, and Tyler Glasnow. These players are all going to be relied on heavily in order for the Pirates to make a push for a Pennant race.
Obviously, the Pirates have some major question marks that must be answered immediately.
1. Will the starting rotation get to playoff form?
Odds are, this is going to be a very difficult problem to hurdle due to the Bucs’ need to rely on prospects to help get the rotation back to form. Jameson Taillon is going to need to help out tremendously, and Gerrit Cole is going to need to stay healthy, along with pitching like a true ace.
2. Will McCutchen bounce back and have an All-Star caliber season?
McCutchen is still one of the best all-around baseball players in the game, but his 2016 campaign has been very dissapointing. He sits on a line of 12 home runs, 32 runs batted in, and a .239 batting average. June was a very dissapointing month for McCutchen, but if the Pirates have any shot at just making the playoffs, Andrew McCutchen must get back to Andrew McCutchen form.
3. Can the Pirates stay healthy?
Gerrit Cole, Francisco Cervelli, Ryan Vogelsong, Chris Stewart, and Elias Diaz are all on the Disabled List. The first two players mentioned in Cole and Cervelli are both far too valuable to the pitching rotation’s success to have both of them on the DL.
Obviously, Francisco Cervelli has a phenomenal bat in his game, but he is one of the most important if not the most important piece when it comes to the Pirates pitchers success. He consistently helps every single pitcher on their moves and deliveries. When the pitchers see Cervelli behind the dish, they see a safety net, because they know he is going to do anything in his power to help them have major success. Getting Cervelli back and healthy is going to be paramount for the Pirates to make a push at the National League Central crown.
If the Pirates expect to make any comeback in the second half of the season, the Pirates are going to have to stay as healthy as possible.
The Pirates are looking good so far in the month of July as they are 3-0 and have evened up their season record at 41-41 exactly at the half way point.
The Bucs finish up this road trip with a three games series against the St. Louis Cardinals, and then they come home for a 3 games series against the Chicago Cubs. These next two series are going to be crucial for the Pirates.
GZ Sports Report Writer