pittsburgh-pirates

When FanGraphs released their initial Projected Standings for 2016, we were all happy to find the Chicago Cubs sitting comfortably on top with 95 wins. Then, when PECOTA released their 2016 Projected Standings – just a few weeks ago – our confidence in the team was reaffirmed, as the Cubs were projected to win 92 games (second most in baseball, most in the NL Central).

However, the win totals for our beloved Cubs weren’t the only important lessons gleaned from these projections. After all, the two best teams from 2015 are still in the Cubs division and would likely have something to say about the Cubs simply running away with a title.

Still, the projections are moderately weak on their 2016 outlook.



For example, FanGraphs projected just 84 wins for St. Louis and Pittsburgh, while PECOTA was even more pessimistic, projecting the Cardinals (82) and Pirates (83) to fall well short of the Cubs (92). Despite the typical preseason optimism, though, questions persists about the Cardinals and Pirates, and we openly wondered whether they would really be great again.

Unfortunately for the Pirates, you can add one more very significant question to the pile: Will Gerrit Cole be 100% by opening day?

According to Adam Berry (MLB.com), Pirates’ ace Gerrit Cole has been dealing with right rib inflammation since mid-January. Reportedly suffered during normal offseason training, the injury has pushed Cole off his preseason schedule, as he is now on a modified throwing program.

Cole is scheduled to throw off the slope of the mound today, and is aiming to get back on the bump later this week. We are still quite early into the Spring – so if there was a good time for an injury, now’s that time – but if I were a Pirates fan, I’d definitely be clenching.

That said, Cole doesn’t seem to be particularly concerned or in any kind of serious pain. “There’s just inflammation on the rib. It wasn’t really any specific kind of thing,” Cole told MLB.com. “It’s definitely not prohibiting anything.”



Obviously an injury to Gerrit Cole would be devastating to the Pirates. His projected 4.3 fWAR is second most on the team, behind just Andrew McCutchen. And although the Pirates have two top pitching prospects lurking in AAA – Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon – starting either of them from the rotation right out of camp might not be the way the Pirates want to go.

Jon Lester took it similarly slow last Spring, but was ready to compete by opening day; Cole could do the same. Of course, they are completely different players with totally different injuries, so we’ll plant this story firmly in the “Question Mark” pile for the 2016 Pirates. As of now, though, Cole expects to be ready for Opening Day. We’ll see.




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