It wasn’t far-fetched to think the Pittsburgh Pirates were closing the door on contention when franchise cornerstones Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole were traded during the offseason.
After making the postseason three straight years, the team had posted back-to-back losing seasons and seemingly slipped to a distant fourth in the NL Central behind the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers in the process.nfl jerseys from china
With a largely inexperienced starting staff behind veteran Ivan Nova and an offense that averaged a dismal 4.1 runs per game (28th in the majors) last year—and that was prior to losing its most productive hitter in McCutchen—a step backward seemed inevitable.
The Pirates have stormed out of the gate with an 11-6 record that puts them atop the NL Central standings and a plus-13 run differential.nfl wholesale jerseys
The starting staff that looked like a question mark has instead been a strength, posting a 3.62 ERA that ranks 13th in the majors, with Jameson Taillon (3 GS, 2-0, 0.89 ERA, 0.69 WHIP) and Trevor Williams (4 GS, 3-1, 1.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) leading the way.cheap nfl jerseys china
Meanwhile, the offense paces the NL with 89 runs scored and ranks second with 5.2 runs per game.
Newcomers Corey Dickerson (.328 BA, .878 OPS) and Colin Moran (.298 BA, .763 OPS) have made an immediate impact, and Josh Bell appears ready to take a step forward in his second season.
The NL Central is going to be a battle all season, and there’s no reason to think of the Cubs, Cardinals and Brewers as anything but contenders at this point.nfl jerseys china
However, it’s looking more and more like the Pirates will be part of that conversation as well.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted, and accurate through Monday’s games.