Milwaukee Brewers: Why the Pittsburgh Pirates won’t win the division

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 19: Domingo Santana
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 19: Domingo Santana /

The Milwaukee Brewers just finished an off season in which they dealt a few top prospects for a difference maker. The Pittsburgh Pirates are going in the opposite direction after dealing away two franchise cornerstones. The Brewers are poised to win 90 games, while the Pirates look like they’re about to lose 90. Here’s why…

The Pittsburgh Pirates finished below .500 for the second straight year and decided to make some changes this off season. Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole left in deals to help rebuild the Pirates farm system. The biggest addition to the roster this off season was Corey Dickerson. Other moves could follow closer to the trade deadline as the Pirates work to complete their tear down.

So, who is on the Pirates roster in 2018?

Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, and Josh Harrison are still there, but there is a disturbing lack of power in this lineup. Josh Bell needs to continue his breakout, but this lineup doesn’t have a ton of protection for him.

As far as pitching goes, Felipe Rivero is still the closer. However, the bullpen is really thin behind him. Tony Watson left via free agency, and Daniel Hudson was just dealt. Michael Feliz looks like a ‘closer-in-waiting’, and should close if/when Rivero goes in a deadline deal.

In the rotation, the Pirates are really banking on Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow fulfilling their potential. Joe Musgrove is already struggling with a shoulder that may or may not be injured.

What’s going right for the Pirates?

They can catch the ball. They’re average to above-average defensively just about everywhere except the outfield corners. Their team defense will help keep games close. They have a few interesting arms, but there isn’t a whole lot here to get excited about.

How do the Brewers match up with the Pirates?

Very well. The only lefties that have a roster spot locked up are Glasnow and Rivero. The Milwaukee Brewers upgraded their lineup in the off season, but still look like they’re going to struggle against lefties.

The Pirates, as a team, had a .704 OPS in 2017, and they traded McCutchen’s .849 OPS. The Milwaukee Brewers lack an ace, but games against the Pirates look like an opportunity to rack up scoreless innings.

Next: Should the Brewers worry about the Reds?

The Pirates are still in the middle of their roster tear down. They’re stuck in a transitional period from a team that saw their championship window close, and are at the very beginning of the rebuild. They’re going to struggle in 2018, and the Milwaukee Brewers need to do more than win the season series against Pittsburgh. They need to dominate if they want to stay in contention for the NL Central or fight for a Wild Card spot.