Pirates sit 2.5 games behind 1st place at 20% mark

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Pirates sit 2.5 games behind 1st place at 20% mark

Vázquez with the Pirates in 2017

Vázquez with the Pirates in 2017

D. Benjamin Miller [Public domain]

Vázquez with the Pirates in 2017

D. Benjamin Miller [Public domain]

D. Benjamin Miller [Public domain]

Vázquez with the Pirates in 2017

Matthew Szymanowski, Deputy Sports Editor

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After the Pirates’ victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night, they are now about 20% of the way through the 2019 campaign. With low expectations going into the season, the Pirates are proving experts wrong as they are 17-15.

Though they do sit in 4th place in the NL Central, the Pirates are only 2.5 games behind the division-leading Chicago Cubs.

Many of these wins have come because of the excellent starting pitching.

Jordan Lyles, who was signed to a minor league contract this off-season, leads the staff with a 2.20 ERA.

Joe Musgrove, acquired for Gerrit Cole last winter, also has an ERA under 3, and he had one of the best pitching months in April.

Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams are continuing to get the job done with 62 strikeouts combined between the two.

The injured Chris Archer has struggled so far with an ERA of 4.33, but he is still averaging more than one strikeout per inning.

The bullpen has been cause for concern.

Richard Rodriguez and Keone Kela both have high ERAs, and Nick Burdi went out with an arm injury.

On the bright side, all-star Felipe Vazquez is continuing to close down games and strike batters out, and Francisco Liriano just gave up his first run on Friday.

Offensively, there is room for improvement.

The power is still lacking, but Josh Bell has stepped up his game. Without a doubt, the best hitter on the team, Bell, has eight home runs and 25 RBIs.

Newly signed outfielder Melky Cabrera has shown that old guys can still play ball.

With Corey Dickerson injured, Cabrera has stepped in with a .344 batting average and 10 RBI.

Starling Marte hit a walk-off home run on Sunday, but he only has a .224 batting average.

Outfielder Gregory Polanco hit his first home run of the season on Tuesday after returning from a leg injury.

Jung-Ho Kang has been a major disappointment. The Korean 3rd baseman was resigned to a 1-year contract this off-season, but he seems unable to hit his way out of a paper bag right now.

The same can be said for catcher Francisco Cervelli, who is only batting .174.

Picking up some of the slack for the struggles are the new kids: Cole Tucker and Bryan Reynolds.

Tucker, the possible future face of the franchise, homered in his first big league game a few weeks ago against the Giants. The young shortstop always has a smile on his face and makes almost every play humanly possible.

Outfielder Bryan Reynolds is hitting everything in sight with a .366 batting average. The switch hitter is also playing great defensively.

Through 32 games, the Pirates are 17-15. If they can get healthy, with hopeful returns of Corey Dickerson, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Chris Archer soon, they will be tough to beat.

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