Nearly half way through the Major League Baseball season, the Pittsburgh Pirates 49-30 record is the best in the league.
Take that in for a second. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who haven’t been relevant for the past two decades, have the best record in baseball right now.
The Pirates started off last season strong as well, but ended the season losing 35 of their last 15 games and ended up missing the playoffs.
So the question is, is this year’s Pirates team good enough to win the World Series?
Without a doubt, the Pirates have a World Series quality pitching staff.
Pittsburgh actually has 6 quality starters, which is amazing considering most teams struggle to put together a staff with 4 good starters. Pittsburgh’s starters have actually been so good that the team is considering sending rookie phenom Gerrit Cole back down to Triple-A to keep him on his regular pitching schedule. Right now, Cole is 4-0 in his first career starts.
AJ Burnett and Jeff Locke have been as solid of a 1-2 punch on top of the rotation as you will find in the league. Locke is 7-1 right now with a 2.06 ERA and Burnett has posted 10 quality starts in his 14 outings. The rest of the starting rotation, Francisco Liriano, Wandy Rodriguez, and Jeanmar Gomez, have all been solid as well.
Pittsburgh bullpen has also been outstanding. Jason Grilli currently leads the National League in saves and Mark Melancon is having a terrific season as their setup man.
As a team, the Pirates have a 3.20 ERA, which is the second best team ERA in the league.
While the pitching stats look great, the Pirates batting numbers do not. Pittsburgh doesn’t have a single player batting over .300. Five of Pittsburgh’s starters are actually batting below .250.
Pittsburgh currently ranks 11th in the National League in batting average and runs.
However, Pittsburgh has been hitting for power this season, as they rank 5th in the NL in home runs with 80 so far this season. Pedro Alvarez leads the team with 19 home runs, and that ranks 3rd in the National League right now.
The top of Pittsburgh lineup has produced this year, as Andrew McCutchen is batting .293 on the season and Starling Marte is batting .287.
If these two start to struggle, Pittsburgh’s offense could become nonexistent.
While their pitching staff will keep them in a lot of games, Pittsburgh just doesn’t have the offensive firepower to win the World Series.
The bottom of Pittsburgh’s lineup has been so inconsistent that you just don’t know what you’ll get in a big game. If the Pirates can acquire a bat at the trade deadline, this whole conversation will change. But right now, Pittsburgh doesn’t have the lineup to win a World Series, even if their pitching staff will keep them in just about every game.
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