First Pitch: Five Big Questions That Will Determine if the Pirates Will Remain Contenders
Jul18

First Pitch: Five Big Questions That Will Determine if the Pirates Will Remain Contenders

The Pittsburgh Pirates will kick off the second half of the season today. They enter the second half with a 49-46 record, sitting 3.5 games out of first place in the NL Central, and 3 games back in the Wild Card race. They’ve got the lowest chances of any of the playoff contenders, but they’re still considered contenders. You can go through any team — contender or not — and you’ll find questions...

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First Pitch: It’s Time to Recognize Mark Melancon as an Elite Reliever
Jul17

First Pitch: It’s Time to Recognize Mark Melancon as an Elite Reliever

Mark Melancon is one of the best relievers in baseball. That’s not just my opinion. It’s a statistical fact. Just take a look at the numbers over the last two years. Melancon ranks 7th of 139 relievers in xFIP. If you prefer ERA, he drops down to 8th. He’s been an amazing reliever for the Pirates, but he doesn’t get the credit he deserves in Pittsburgh. I’m always baffled by the reactions towards...

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First Pitch: Reviewing the 2014 Success of the Pirates Depth and Farm System
Jul16

First Pitch: Reviewing the 2014 Success of the Pirates Depth and Farm System

This is the sixth season that I’ve been writing about the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. For the first five seasons, I always did a season preview article, looking at X amount of things to focus on while the Pirates tried to end their losing streak (and X was always the year the losing streak was about to enter). This year there was no more losing streak, and thus the article format didn’t work. I still...

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First Pitch: What is Josh Bell’s Future With the Pirates?
Jul15

First Pitch: What is Josh Bell’s Future With the Pirates?

Prior to the 2011 draft, Josh Bell sent a letter to every team, telling them not to draft him. He intended to go to college at the University of Texas, despite being projected as a mid-first round pick. Whether that letter was just a negotiating ploy or actually legit will never really be known. A lot of teams — including interested teams like the Boston Red Sox — passed over Bell due to the letter. The Pittsburgh Pirates...

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First Pitch: The Pirates Don’t Need to Trade For an Ace at the Deadline
Jul14

First Pitch: The Pirates Don’t Need to Trade For an Ace at the Deadline

Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates had three pitchers who looked like top of the rotation guys in the second half. Francisco Liriano had a great season, A.J. Burnett continued his success with the Pirates, and Gerrit Cole was looking like a top of the rotation guy by the end of the year. Prior to this season it looked like they could potentially have three once again by the end of the season. They had Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole...

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First Pitch: The Pirates Need to Adjust How Frieri and Pimentel are Used
Jul13

First Pitch: The Pirates Need to Adjust How Frieri and Pimentel are Used

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a problem with their bullpen. The problem isn’t a lack of talent in the bullpen. Tony Watson has been one of the best relievers in baseball this year, and Mark Melancon isn’t far behind him. Those two give the Pirates a great combo in the late innings. Jared Hughes has stepped up to have an impressive year. While he’s not as good as his ERA, his xFIP of 3.76 currently ranks third on the...

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