2017 Pittsburgh Pirates
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2017 Pittsburgh Pirates / Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates / BR Team Page
Managed by Clint Hurdle
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates entered the season with plenty of questions. Would they revert to form as the team that made the playoffs each year from 2013 to 2015, or would they come closer to their sub-.500 performance from 2016? The team had made few changes in the off-season. Returning as starters were C Francisco Cervelli, 2B Josh Harrison, SS Jordy Mercer and outfielders Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco (though the outfield spots had been shuffled). Josh Bell, a rookie in 2016, was expected to become the starter at 1B, succeeding John Jaso, while 3B Jung-ho Kang faced DUI charges in South Korea, with David Freese expected to step in if Kang was unavailable.
The bigger questions came on the pitching staff. After a poor performance by the 2016 rotation, the team was banking on rehab from injury by Gerrit Cole, good work from Ivan Nova (acquired late the previous year and re-signed over the winter, surprising the fan base, which assumed he would go elsewhere), progress from youngsters Jameson Taillon and Chad Kuhl and hoping someone stepped into the 5th spot. The bullpen was somewhat more stable, with closer Tony Watson and Felipe Rivero returning and Daniel Hudson signed.
The Pirates opened the year at Fenway Park with their bats in a deep freeze. They lost on opening day, 4-0, as Cole was outpitched by Rick Porcello on April 3rd, then in their second game two days later, they got a solid seven-inning scoreless performance from Taillon but were once again unable to push a runner across the plate, losing 3-0 in 12 innings on a walk-off homer by Sandy Leon off Antonio Bastardo, after front-line relievers Hudson, Rivero, Watson and Juan Nicasio had each pitched a scoreless frame to keep the game going. They were 11-13 over the first month as no team pulled away in the division. The pitching of Cole, Nova (NL Pitcher of the Month) and Taillon were bright spots but Kuhl and Tyler Glasnow were struggling as the 4th and 5th starters. The offense, already bereft of Kang (who could not get a visa due to his conviction), was hit further when Marte was suspended 80 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances. Freese was leading the offense but then was sidelined with an injury; Harrison was the only other batter contributing well. The Bucs did make history twice - with the first Lithuanian-born and -raised major leaguer (Dovydas Neverauskas) and the first major leaguer born and raised in Africa, Gift Ngoepe, who made their debut within two days of one another in late April.
Awards and Honors