It’s been 20 long years since the Pittsburgh Pirates have finished a regular season with a winning percentage of over .500. However, after the first 51 games in the 2012 regular season, the Pirates are one game over that magical number with a record of 26-25.
Could this be the year that Pirates fans have been dreaming of, the year that a once proud franchise finally finishes with a winning season?
On the latest episode of the “T.J. McAloon and the Sports Half Hour,” my guest and I talked about this year’s team, and if they have what it takes to erase 20 years of bad teams, players, coaches, front office staff and memories.
Last year, Pirates fans thought their nightmare of horrible baseball was going to come to an end. The team was in first place in late July, they were buyers at the trade deadline and they were playing great baseball.
But then, in the early hours at Turner Field on July 26th, home plate umpire Jerry Meals made one bad call that tanked the 2011 Pirates season.
The end result of what was a promising season was another season where the team finished with a sub-.500 record of 72-90.
Now as the baseball season enters its third month, these Pirates have the pitching that can not only carry the team to a winning record, but a division title. The pitching staff ranks second in the National League with an ERA of 3.21.
The staff is led by offseason acquisition A.J. Burnett. His presence has helped this Pirates team to lead the NL Central in: ERA, earned runs, saves and batting average. Plus, Burnett has had a dominating presence over young pitcher James McDonald.
Before this season, McDonald was a good pitcher but he didn’t have “Ace” type material. However, since Burnett joined the Pirates, McDonald is now the third-best pitcher in the National League with a 2.20 ERA.
He may be third in the National League in ERA, but he leads the NL Central in that category plus WHIP with a low 0.96.
However, with the Pirates' great pitching staff, they lack hitting. If this team can find any hitting to support Andrew McCutchen they will have a great chance to finish the season with a winning record and contend with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds for the division title.
So with the team having a great pitching staff, but terrible hitting, the question is: Can this Pirates team somehow find some hitting to match the pitching staff to give this fan base a winning baseball team in September and October?