More than likely, the Pittsburgh Pirates will struggle to find any relevancy during the 2020 season. If you feel the need to give yourself an extra incentive to watch, gambling might just be the answer.
Let’s check out some odds for the Pirates in the 2020 season, shall we?
Obviously not much is expected of the Pirates this season. Starling Marte was traded and no real players of value were added to the major league roster in the offseason. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Pirates have the following odds:
Win the division: 50/1
Keep in mind that no other NL Central team has worse than 3/1 odds to win the division. Vegas sees the NL Central as a true four team race with the Pirates being the punching bag of the division.
Win the pennant: 100/1
Win the World Series: 200/1
As far as the World Series goes, only the Giants (250/1), Royals (500/1), Mariners (500/1), Orioles (750/1), Tigers (750/1), and Marlins (750/1) have worse odds.
At this time, not much is listed in terms of player prop bets. That should change soon. Right now though, DraftKings has odds listed for the MVP and Cy Young winner. The Pirates have two pitchers listed for the Cy Young and one position player listed for MVP.
Josh Bell MVP: 80/1
Chris Archer Cy Young: 80/1
Joe Musgrove Cy Young: 150/1
Out of these longshot odds, I believe the Musgrove as Cy Young bet holds the most value if you’re crazy enough to bet on a Pirate. Jacob deGrom (+300) and Max Scherzer (+375) are the favorites. After those two there is a clear drop off with guys like Walker Buehler (+900), Jack Flaherty (+1200), and Stephen Strasburg (+1200).
Musgrove isn’t in the same tier the pitchers listed above. But he has improved his fWAR in each year that he’s pitched. With an immense leap in production (like double your WAR immense) and a ton of luck, who knows? That’s why they call it longshot. Once again, I wouldn’t recommend putting actual money on it though.
On FanDuel Sportsbook, the Pirates’ over/under for win total is listed at 69.5. Last season they won 69 games.
Call me overly optimistic, but I like the over. I see the Pirates winning about 72-74 games in 2020. The Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals did next to nothing to improve this offseason and I’m not really a believer in the “on paper offseason champion” Reds.
For the Pirates, the pitching can’t be nearly as bad as it was last season. Archer and Williams should bounce back from sub-par 2019 seasons into their normal two-win selves. Musgrove should continue to improve as should Mitch Keller. The returns of Chad Kuhl and Edgar Santana will help.
As far as the offense goes, I would guess that 2020 will look slightly worse than 2019. Losing Marte obviously hurts. Getting a full season of Gregory Polanco helps (if he can stay healthy). Guys like Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman are regression candidates and Bell probably won’t look like Willie Stargell for a three month stretch, but who knows?
Overall though, if the pitching staff can bounce back, it should offset the potential regression in offense. Defensively speaking, the Pirates will be better once Ke’Bryan Hayes eventually replaces Colin Moran at third base. The signing of Jarrod Dyson gives the outfield defense an enormous upgrade than if Reynolds were to be the one patrolling centerfield regularly.
Finally, the additions of Ben Cherington and Derek Shelton will bring a breath of fresh air to the organization. Over the past three seasons, things had gotten extremely stale. A malaise settled. Last season in particular marked a tipping point.
The forming of a new culture could be just what this team needs to improve. In my opinion, it will help the team improve a few games over last season.
Slam the over.