2017 is just about over, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are likely happy to turn the page to the new year. What should some of the team’s major cogs resolve to do in 2018?
The Pittsburgh Pirates will look to 2018 as a chance to improve upon a 75-win team in 2017. To do so, some major cogs in the organization might want to commit themselves, resolve themselves if you will, towards the following:
- Jameson Taillon really turned it on over the last month and change of 2017, and he should resolve to continue mixing in his changeup as much as he did over that timeframe. In the last six weeks of the season, Taillon increased his changeup usage by just under five percent. Hitters hit .136 against the pitch, and if he can continue to develop it alongside his live fastball and hammer-like curve, he will remain a tough task for opposing hitters.
- Gerrit Cole should resolve himself to just going out and pitching. Whichever mound he calls home in 2018, Cole should commit himself to embracing the art of pitching. Always known fo his bulldog mentality and raw stuff, Cole would do well to find a healthy mix of power and offspeed.
- Ivan Nova needs to find some deception. As we noted previously, Nova’s 2017 offerings lacked the ability to deceive hitters into swinging at junk. Though he will never be a high-strikoeut pitcher, Nova absolutely needs to be able to work hitters into a bad decision.
- Chad Kuhl should resolve to continue to refine his burgeoning curveball.
- Trevor Williams‘ resolution should be to continue to fly under the radar and then impress. All Williams has done is continually get better with each outing. What more can you ask for from a second-year pitcher sent to the team in a trade for an executive? His 2.2 fWAR season in 2017 should have Pittsburgh Pirates fans very excited about what’s to come.
- Felipe Rivero had a strong season, but his continued success may rely on continuing to develop his changeup. Already filthy at an average of 88mph (10.05 mph average difference from his four-seam), if “Nightmare” can continue to effectively pull the string, he might be nigh unstoppable.
- Daniel Hudson should resolve to put 2017 behind him. Despite his foibles, he is still a capable pitcher who must do his part for the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen to succeed.
- Jack Leathersich and George Kontos should resolve to provide the bullpen with considerable strikeout capability. Leathersich carries a career 11.3 K/9 while Kontos posted a 9.3 rating in his 15 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Missing more bats could move the club’s current pre-ninth inning bullpen away from being a liability.
- Starling Marte must resolve to restoring some faith among Pittsburgh Pirates fans and observers alike. With the stench of his 2017 PED suspension nearly faded, a solid season will see it fade completely from the perspective of many.
- Andrew McCutchen should resolve to focusing on baseball, and not get caught up in the drama that will inevitably crop up as the trade deadline gets closer.
- Having turned in a fine “first” season, Josh Bell should resolve to lower his 51.1 percent groundball rate. Bell flashed some home run power in 2017, but the ability to spray line drives all over the field (Bell compiled just a 17.1 percent line drive rate in ’17), will truly power his completeness as a hitter.
- Gregory Polanco must resolve on proving he can actualize the raw talent that found him as one of the most anticipated minor league callups in recent history. Polanco gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a consistent left-handed hitting threat in 2015-2016 before injuries derailed his 2017. If he can tap into that talent once again and rebound, he will carry more weight in the teams’ future plans than ever before.
- Josh Harrison needs to continue showcasing the real Jhay we saw in 2017: a solid player who — while likely to not replicate his magical 2014 season — can serve as a solid three-win player that any team would love to have.
- Sean Rodriguez, Adam Frazier and Max Moroff must resolve themselves to giving the Pittsburgh Pirates something they desperately need: a bench that can actually be counted on to produce.
What say you?
We asked Pittsburgh Pirates fans to give us their idea for some #pirates New Year’s Resolutions, and here’s what you said. We’ll update these throughout the day as more roll in:
John Jaso makes a heroic late season return just like SRod did. (actually I hope it doesn’t happen) 😎
— Tony Pirollo (@theTonyPirollo) December 31, 2017
Marte 50 SB, Polanco 28 HR, Jamo 18 wins
— Chad Sipes (@chadsipes) December 31, 2017
— Cami Foreman (@cami_foreman) December 31, 2017