As I am usually a pretty pessimistic fan, I actually find myself somewhat excited about the Pirates this year. They are going younger, and it is working.
Yes, they currently sit on the outside looking in, but this is only by a game. And they have done this without Cole, Cervelli, Stewart, and a bad version of Lirano and McCutchen, not to mention a suspect bullpen. However, the bullpen has come around and even today's loss showed hope for a Jeff Locke out of the bullpen coming in the future.
We have seen Chad Kohl, and he has been better than many thought. He deserves a shot at the eventual 5th starter role. We have seen Glasnow, and he is going to be able to strike guys out. Adding that change is going to make him deadly. We have seen Taillon, and while some growth is still there, he can be dominate. He needs the majors to grow any more, and he is going to be an addition to the team. We have seen Adam Frazier, and he can be the super utility guy of the future or the eventual starting short stop or second baseman. He seems to be able with the bat and in the field (although needing a little more outfield time).
We have also just gotten a glimpse of Josh Bell. Wow. What a way to debut. Bell got a pinch hit single in his first at bat off of none other than Jake Arrietta. He came around to score the winning run. We saw Bell's second pinch hit go for a grand slam to put the game away against the Cubs. We saw his third plate appearance go for a walk, where he would come around to score the tying run. Bell is 2 for 2 with a run scored in all three plate appearances. Not bad at all.
So, the Pirates appear to be able to compete with what they have right now. If they could clear out Niese to make room for a Kuhl or eventually a Glasnow, it would be great. If they could get their catchers to stay healthy it would be good. Cole will be back right after the All-Star break. Plus, they have some prospects that could be traded for immediate help, probably in the bullpen, as they don't really need any other bats and have the young arms to pitch in the rotation. Someone like Max Moroff, who may now be disposable with Frazier grabbing his opportunity by the horns, or even a Hansen. Frank Duncan looks like a break out pitching prospect, perhaps he gets a trade look. Brault could be another pitcher to go. The Pirates have the people without having to risk someone like Meadows or Keller.
At the very least this has been a glimpse into not needing McCutchen. He was the hope for so long and Alvarez failed to materialize as his running mate. Now McCutchen has Marte and Polanco and maybe even Kang to cover him. Getting a glimpse of Bell as a power bat should make everyone feel like the Pirates are set for the future. Seeing Taillon develop to run with Cole and getting the glimpse of Glasnow only fuels the fire. With guys like Kuhl stepping up to audition for the supporting cast is also invigorating.
The Pirate future is bright. I do think they make the post season, they won't have to face the Cubs in a do or die, nor does it look like Bumgardner will be waiting. It could be Kershaw, but only time will tell.