2014 NL Central: The Pirates hunt for booty


The Bucs won’t forgive or forget 2013. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals will have to fight off the pesky Pirates this year, but unlike 2013, Pittsburgh does not look like a team bound for October.

The once pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates oragnization now has high expectations.  Along with lofty predictions and the desire to repeat comes an unfamiliar pressure that could create a sophomore slump for players like Gerrit Cole and Starling Marte.

Ballers like MVP Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez are stellar players in their prime but can they carry the load?

Oct 7, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder

Andrew McCutchen

(22) climbs and watches a two-home run by St. Louis Cardinals left fielder

Matt Holliday

(not pictured) clear the wall during the sixth inning in game four of the National League divisional series at PNC Park. The St. Louis Cardinals won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After Marlon Byrd flew to Philly and Justin Morneau headed for the mountains of Colorado the stacked lineup that took St. Louis to a decisive fifth game in the 2013 NLDS is no more.

A.J. Burnett has not decided where he will be pitching, because he might not be able to forgive captain Clint Hurdle.  This creates a giant void (almost 200 innings in 12′ and 13′ from Burnett) in the rotation that cannot be filled by Wandy Rodriguez or Edinson Volquez.  If the beastly Burnett can look past Hurdle’s decision to start Cole in Game 5 last October and returns to Pittsburgh, then the Bucs will be better off, but still lesser than last year’s Post-Season squad.

Because the National League East and West are so much better than last year, it looks like the Wildcards will be coming from different time zones.  The Central might be pummeling each other too much this season to push three teams foreword like last year.

In order for Pittsburgh to succeed and produce like they did last year, or more, they will have to make moves before the deadlines like in 2013.  But if the second year slump skips stars like ‘Cole Train’ and ‘Starling Silver’ then the Bucs might not stop in St. Louis.

Prediction:  90-72

It smells like a good old Midwestern rivalry.  H.Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports