The Pittsburgh Pirates want to improve on a 2022 season that saw them finish with 100 losses and tied for last in the National League Central. They were a massive 31 games behind the division-winning St. Louis Cardinals and 25 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, so their initial goal should be to get enough wins in 2023 to beat the Cincinnati Reds and not finish in the cellar.
The Pirates start the season on the road before returning to PNC Park for their home-opening three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Friday, April 7. The Pirates have three more series in Pittsburgh in April, taking on the World Series-winning Houston Astros, the Reds, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of 111 games last season It is far from an easy start to the year.
Here are three questions for the Pirates ahead of the 2023 season.
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Three Key Questions
How quickly does this team improve?
There are two types of teams that hit 100 losses in a season. The first is a squad full of aging veterans that all get old at once and has an ownership/management structure that doesn’t do anything about it until too late. The second is a young team in a rebuild, one that is added to with savvy trade and free agent pickups that fit within a budget, but that grow together to be relevant in the future. This Pirates team trends towards the latter – it is stockpiled with young talent – but is it still a year early for them?
Will bringing back Andrew McCutchen pay off?
It is weird to think that of Andrew McCutchen’s nine years in Pittsburgh, six of them saw the Pirates finish with a losing record. The flip side of that is that for the other three years, they were among the very best teams in the National League. What McCutchen – now 36 and with a 4.8 WAR over the last five years – brings to this franchise is much more than his bat. He will improve a right field spot that was a black hole of a slash line in 2022, but his presence and his personality will make this locker room a better place to be.
When does Endy Rodriguez get the call?
We are using Endy Rodriguez as a catch-all for the Pirates minor league system here as it is full of prospects. Rodriguez is one of the most interesting of the bunch, a catcher that tore it up in Double-A ball last year. He won’t be rushed – at the start of the season he will have played less than 40 games above Single-A – but when he does come through he will be a difference-maker.
Upcoming Pirates Home Games (Before the All-Star Break)
Fri, April 7 – Chicago White Sox
Sat, April 8 – Chicago White Sox
Sun, April 9 – Chicago White Sox
Mon, April 10 – Houston Astros
Tue, April 11 – Houston Astros
Wed, April 12 – Houston Astros
Thu, April 20 – Cincinnati Reds
Fri, April 21 – Cincinnati Reds
Sat, April 22 – Cincinnati Reds
Sun, April 23 – Cincinnati Reds
Tue, April 25 – Los Angeles Dodgers
Wed, April 26 – Los Angeles Dodgers
Thu, April 27 – Los Angeles Dodgers
Fri, May 5 – Toronto Blue Jays
Sun, May 7 – Toronto Blue Jays
Wed, May 10 – Colorado Rockies
Fri, May 19 – Arizona Diamondbacks
Sat, May 20 – Arizona Diamondbacks
Sun, May 21 – Arizona Diamondbacks
Fri, June 2 – St. Louis Cardinals
Sat, June 3 – St. Louis Cardinals
Sun, June 4 – St. Louis Cardinals
Mon, June 5 – Oakland Athletics
Tue, June 6 – Oakland Athletics
Wed, June 7 – Oakland Athletics
Tue, June 27 – San Diego Padres
Wed, June 28 – San Diego Padres
Thu, June 29 – San Diego Padres
Fri, June 30 – Milwaukee Brewers
Sat, July 1 – Milwaukee Brewers
Sun, July 2 – Milwaukee Brewers