Battlingbucs' 2017 Prediction

Using my grand mystical powers I foresee a good year for our Buccos. They will finish with an 87-75 record just barely squeaking by the Cardinals for the second wildcard spot in the NL. Cole is a force in the wild card game against the Nationals and the Pirates move on with a 5-2 win. They then play a thrilling 5 game series against the Cubs that sees them advance with the big play being an Andrew McCutchen 8th inning 3 run home run. Unfortunately the season comes to an end in the NLCS as the eventual World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers defeat them in 6 games.

The outfield will thrive with Marte firmly establishing himself as the best player on the team. He'll hit 20+ home runs and steal 40+ bases and finish in the top 5 in the MVP voting. Cutch will take to right field well and though he'll still be below average in the field he won't be a liability. The bat bounces back but not to anywhere near pre-2016 levels (around 130 wRC+). Polanco has a rough time handling the transition to LF but eventually settles before an injury forces him to miss time in the second half. Meadows is called upon and fills in admirably for him.

In the infield Bell shows improvement with his glove but disappoints with his bat. It isn't a bad season just one that falls short of expectations. Harrison bounces back and plays like an average 2B but has some lingering injury issues which causes him to miss significant time. Frazier fills in for and shows the worries about him at 2B are overblown but the bat is just passable and he cements his place as just a utility player. Kang manages to put all the distractions and injuries behind him and plays close to a full season belting 30+ home runs and being a force in the lineup. Mercer does what he does and provides an adequate but non exciting season at short.

At catcher Cervelli and Stewart both miss time but not a lot and Diaz fills in well in their absence and establishes himself as 2018's backup. As for Cervelli he rebounds nicely but not back to 2015 levels. Freese proves to be a slight disappointment off the bench but hits left handers well enough to be an asset. Jaso has a strong showing and even takes away a few starts from Bell. Hanson doesn't make it through the season.

Cole has a big year starting 30 games and leaving little doubt he is an ace. Taillion has 2 great starts to begin the season but hits a rough patch, goes on the DL for a little bit but returns and finishes the year strong. Nova shows his performance last year with the Pirates wasn't real but he is still plenty good enough posting an ERA of 3.66 and being a solid presence in the middle of the rotation. Kuhl, Brault and Glasnow all stumble with their early chances but it is Hutchison that steps up to give the staff a 4th reliable arm (though he isn't great just good enough to give the team a chance in most of his starts). At the deadline they add Patrick Corbin to the rotation who is in the midst of a solid year with the struggling Diamondbacks. Tyler Glasnow comes on strong in the August and ends up taking starts from Hutchison (who has started to degrade) in September.

Bastardo is dealt before the season begins. The back end of Watson-Hudson-Rivero proves to be formidable but the rest of the bullpen aside from Nicasio struggles. The Pirates manage to hold the fort with callups and waiver moves but the big boost comes when they call up Edgar Santana in June. To further reinforce the pen Pat Neshek is acquired at the deadline.

Cole, Taillion, Nova and Corbin are the Pirates rotation to open up the playoffs but in game 5 of the NLDS against the Cubs its Tyler Glasnow who steps up big throwing 3.2 shutout innings in relief of Jameson Taillion. In the offseason Watson leaves for nothing and Andrew McCutchen is dealt for a package centered around a AA starting pitcher and a catcher in A ball (my powers won't let me see who).

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editors or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.