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MLB

Pittsburg Pirates: Five Players That Need to Perform to Make Postseason

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2013 Pittsburgh Pirates

Cutch
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

The 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates play in a very difficult division that includes the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals, Reds and Brewers figure to be the main competition for the Pirates in the division. The Cubs are in a rebuilding phase currently. However, they have some nice pieces already, including Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.

The Pirates were able to hang tough in the National League Central for two straight years before the all-star break. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and company weren’t able to sustain their good baseball long enough to make the playoffs, or even crack .500, but it was still a positive to see that it’s possible to have competitive baseball in Pittsburgh.

Plenty of young talent is in place for the Pirates, with a relatively stocked minor league system that is very top heavy. There aren’t a ton of great players “down on the farm” for the Pirates, but they do have some nice young pitchers, Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon, that project to be aces in the very near future. Aside from Cole, the Pirates don’t have anyone that is capable of aiding the 2013 club.

The Reds and Cardinals are very good, possibly two of the best three teams in the National League. However, it is the great game of baseball, and games are not played on paper. If the Pirates can get solid contributions from everyone on the roster, they definitely have a shot to surprise some people in 2013.

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James McDonald

James McDonald
Jake Roth-USA Today Sports

James McDonald was able to pitch like a Cy Young candidate in the first half of 2012, when the Pittsburgh Pirates were playing well. It's no coincidence that the Pirates collapsed when McDonald was pitching poorly.

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Francisco Liriano

Francisco Liriano
Jesse Johnson-USA Today Sports
No one seems to know exactly when Francisco Liriano will be able to come off the disabled list. When he comes back, he will likely force either Jeff Locke or Jonathan Sanchez out of the rotation, depending on who is pitching better. If Liriano is able to pitch like he did early in his career, he will definitely be a nice boost to the Pirates rotation.
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Jason Grilli

Jason Grilli
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports
Once Joel Hanrahan was traded, Jason Grilli became the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates will be playing in a lot of close games, so Grilli will be very important. If he is able to be an effective closer, he will help the Pirates win a ton of games.
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Starling Marte

Starling Marte
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports
Starling Marte has been described as a less polished Andrew McCutchen. Strong words, considering he hasn't played more than a few months for the Pittsburgh Pirates. If he can play even half as well as McCutchen, that will be huge for the Pirates.
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Pedro Alvarez

Pedro Alvarez
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports
Pedro Alvarez is a home run hitter. He was a home run hitter in college, he was a home run hitter in the minor leagues. The Pittsburgh Pirates will need to have Alvarez hit 35 home runs in 2013 if they want any chance at battling for a playoff berth.