It’s not the most fun existence in the world, but being a die hard Pittsburgh Pirates fan runs in my blood. About the only good memory I have is being there for the “Cueto” game, which is still the best event I’ve ever attended. It’s not likely to be a pretty season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find some buried treasure in the Pittsburgh Pirates fantasy season outlook.
If you’re looking for offensive pieces from this team…well, you’re going to have to keep looking. There’s only ONE player in the top 180 in ADP from the NFBC at the moment. Even then, first baseman Josh Bell isn’t exactly without risk. He was a bona fide breakout candidate through the first half of last season.
Then the second half came around and Bell slashed .233/.351/.429. His power numbers took a significant hit as well with the homers dropping to just 10 and only seven doubles through 55 games. He is likely being drafted appropriately for his position as the tenth first baseman off the board. It’s just important to understand the career marks of a .265 average and .831 OPS are the likelier outcome than the fantastic first half of 2019.
To really get a grasp on the Pittsburgh Pirates fantasy outlook, we’re going deep. Past Bell, you have to go a long way down the board to find the next Bucco on ADP. Bryan Reynolds burst onto the major league scene in his rookie season, posting a .314/.377/.503 slash line in 491 at-bats. A key piece to the still heartbreaking Andrew McCutchen trade (I will always love Cutch and you can’t stop me), Reynolds proved his worth in real life baseball.
However, he’s a fascinating case for fantasy. Hitting only 16 home runs had him tied for 59th among outfielders last year. On the plus side, he tied for eighth in doubles. Reynolds is a nice late addition to an outfield that has a lot of power drafted to it, but it remains to be seen if he’s a true .300+ hitter over time.
The only other player that should really be on your radar offensively at this juncture is Kevin Newman. If he gets another 493 plate appearances, he could be a nice plus inn the stolen base category. Newman swiped 16 bags in his first full season. Much like Reynolds, he’s yet to prove he can hit over .300 consistently as well.
Call me crazy, but there could be significant value in two Pirates starters this season, especially one. This pitcher is a huge part of the Pittsburgh Pirates fantasy outlook. We’re going to start with one of my favorite sleepers to grab late in Mitch Keller. You might be wondering why I’m excited for a pitcher that only has 48 innings in the bigs and got smacked for a 7.13 ERA and a 1.833 WHIP. That’s a totally fair thought, but let’s go deeper.
Let’s start with the FIP and xFIP. Both measures were under 3.50, which is a massive difference from the actual ERA. Secondly, Keller has legit strikeout stuff. Even while getting clobbered for runs, he struck out 28.6% of the hitters he faced. His percentage was higher than names like Lance Lynn, Trevor Bauer and Patrick Corbin (barely, but still). It illustrates the talent is there.
We also should factor in the Pirates coaching staff was frankly shambles. Numerous ex-Pirates have said how advanced other teams are. Tyler Glasnow was particularly blunt about it after arriving in Tampa. Having a new coaching staff could unlock the goods for Keller. Combining that with better results indicated by FIP and xFIP could amount to an incredible bargain on draft day.
There’s also some slight appeal to Joe Musgrove. He slots in as the teams “ace” to start the season. The numbers aren’t going to blow you out of the water here, at career marks of a 4.37 ERA, 3.94 FIP and 21.3% strikeout rate. He doesn’t have the talent of Keller, but could be a solid fill in that you spend virtually nothing on.
There’s scant to really get excited about here. The presumed closer is Keone Kela, but he has yet to throw a pitch in Summer Camp and is on the 10-day IL with an undisclosed injury. That reeks of COVID-19, but it should be noted that is pure speculation and not confirmed.
If Kela cannot go, it’s tough to peg who gets the role because manager Derek Shelton has stated that they’ll go mix and match. Kyle Crick has interesting stuff, but a 27/15.5 K-BB% isn’t ideal for a closer. Cases could be made for Richard Rodriguez, Steven Brault or Michael Feliz but they aren’t strong arguments.
Thank you for reading as always. Feel free to tweet me @bucn4life with any and all questions, check out the NFL page on WinDailySports.com and let’s chat in the WinDaily Discord as well!
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