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What to Watch For in 2020

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates-Workouts Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates will be playing baseball this season if only for about a third as long as usual, which begs the question; what is the Buccos’ 2020 campaign going to amount to in terms of performance? In other words, what will a shortened season most likely mean for the Pirates’ record?

I’m not sure anyone is getting their hopes up; Pittsburgh was not an in-between team when spring training originally began back in February, and their shortened stint on the field this year will not most likely change that label. The Pirates are rebuilding, retooling, revamping or whatever you would like to call it. Their chances of sneaking into the playoffs hinges on going on multiple winning streaks in rapid succession, something they’re just not built for.

A team that traded their best offensive player in center fielder Starling Marte this offseason and will not have their de facto ace in pitcher Jameson Taillon (as well as veteran and noted underperforming righty Chris Archer) is not built for a streaky run. The Nats were built like a contender; the Pirates won’t see a roster even close to mirroring what that lineup and rotation did until at least 2022.

Instead, I encourage Pittsburgh Pirate fans to enjoy the fact that baseball is back and to be on the lookout for some stellar performances by the team’s sophomores and rookies. I’d like to round out this article by listing what I believe to be the must-sees for the Buccos in 2020:

  1. Wishing/wanting/hoping left fielder Bryan Reynolds and shortstop Kevin Newman closely replicate their rookie campaigns.
  2. Josh Bell’s earlier than expected introduction to the designated hitter role, and should it become a permanent fixture in the National League, the chances that makes him a better trade chip or (fingers-crossed?) long-term signee.
  3. Mitch Keller stepping into the role of rotation ace.
  4. Ke’Bryan Hayes’ hopefully swift ability to make Colin Moran a footnote in Pirates’ lore.
  5. How much longer will Adam Frazier remain with the team?
  6. What impact does Derek Shelton make in the clubhouse and on the field?
  7. Will Cole Tucker breakout or become a trade chip in the making?