2018 Pirates: Pittsburgh Shell of 2017 Team After Key Departures

starling marte

Mark Lathrop

Friday, March 9, 2018 12:23 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 9, 2018 12:23 PM UTC

With the Pittsburgh Pirates trading Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen over the winter, our MLB handicapper, Mark Lathrop inspects just who is left to get the Pirates over their 73-win futures total in 2018.

We will be breaking down each division team-by-team as we approach the 2018 MLB season to identify futures value and upcoming betting trends. Today, we will take a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the NL Central. The Pirates were projected to have a decent season on the back of good pitching in 2017, with a futures win total set at 82.5. They fell well short of the mark with a mediocre 75-win season. The market doesn’t think this was an anomaly, as the Pirates face a pretty low 73-win total for the 2018 season at Bovada.

Pitching Staff

One of the more exciting developments to come out of the 2017 season for the Pirates was the emergence of Felipe Rivero as one of the better closers in the MLB. Rivero put up a 2.47 FIP over 73 appearances. The rotation is led by one of the unluckiest players in baseball, Jameson Taillon. Not only did he get testicular cancer in 2017, but his BABIP of .352 created a gap between his 3.48 FIP and 4.44 ERA. This may be a common theme for the Pirates this year, as their fielded defense is less than exceptional. That hurts ground-ball pitchers such as Taillon more than others.

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— Pirates (@Pirates) March 8, 2018
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Lineup

The most concerning player for Pirates fans has to be Starling Marte, who apparently lost the ability to hit the ball hard after returning from PED suspension in 2017. That is not hyperbole, as Marte’s hard-hit percentage dropped to 26.2% after sitting at 34.7% in 2016. He is projected to bounce back to nearly 3 WAR over a full season in 2018, but I’m not buying it and his bat could be a burden at the top of the Pirates' lineup sooner rather than later. Luckily for the Pirates, first baseman Josh Bell looks to be primed for a breakout season. A ground-ball hitter with plus-power, if Bell can find the uppercut swing that most major-league players are going to, he could jump to a 30+ home run guy nearly overnight.

Wild Cards and Betting Trends

There are players expected to take leaps forward in 2018 on this roster, one being 25-year old starter Joe Musgrove, who came over in the Gerrit Cole trade with Houston. Musgrove is projected for an FIP under 4, but will need to keep the ball in the yard to be a more consistent contributor. Musgrove allowed a 16.4% HR/FB rate in 2017 over 109.1 innings pitched. On offense, Colin Moran will get his first season of full time at-bats in the major leagues. He showed promise in Triple-A with the Houston organization, and the Pirates will need him to overperform expectations to have a chance to clear their 73-win futures total.

Current Win Total: 73Best Line Offered: Bovada
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