Sports Magazine

Steelreign : Pirates Finding New Identity This Season With J-Hay

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Last season, the Pirates won 94 games and took the Cardinals to the brink of defeat, largely because the team took on the identity of starting pitcher AJ Burnett. They were brash and didn't care what anyone outside of the clubhouse thought or wrote, they just went out and proved everybody wrong. At the start of this season, minus AJ, that attitude seemed to be missing and the Buccos seemed to be adrift, but since May 9th, they seem to have found a new and different identity which has come from different individuals, like this year's sparkplug, Josh Harrison, the "little engine that could". The identity has gone from #STFD to sit back and watch what we do next.
While the starting rotation hasn't been as dominant this year, with Liriano, Morton and Cole getting off to slow starts, they have gotten consistent starts from guys like Brandon Cumpton, Jeff Locke and Vance Worley. The back end of the bullpen has struggled as well, blowing more saves this year than all of last season total, and with Jason Grilli now an Angel, Mark Melancon is the new closer. A 7th, 8th and 9th inning combo of Wilson, **** and Melancon should put the teeth back into the Shark Tank.
The new identity of this year's Pirates can be found on offense as I see it, and while it may not bring to mind the Lumber Company days, it's shaping up to be exciting nonetheless. You pretty much know what you're going to get out of Pedro and McCutchen, and it helps that Mercer and Marte appear to be coming around. Polanco has made them better since his arrival, but the most unexpected shot in the arm has been the guy who just won't go away, Josh Harrison. He has been electrifying with his performance and infectious attitude. He is the Little Engine That Could, who has sparked the Buccos with his bat, his glove, and on the base paths (how about that Houdini act to escape that rundown). He has been the kind of player who may not win you a title, but one who you can't win one without.
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