5 Pittsburgh Pirates Leading the Way This Season

1 of 6

Pittsburgh Pirates Celebrate

.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We are now a quarter of the way through the baseball season and the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking quite good. They are in the running for the lead in the National League Central and they will once again have a shot at breaking their history-making losing streak, 20 years long for those of you that have been hiding in a cave the last two decades. This has all been accomplished with a pitching staff that hasn't been fully healthy all season long.

One big surprise has been just how well this team is playing with their All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen having a poor April and second baseman Neil Walker spending some time on the disabled list. Walker is now back in the lineup and McCutchen has seen his bat come alive in recent weeks. Another surprise has been just how well the pitching staff has performed. They are third in the N.L. in earned-run average, second in strikeouts and first in saves. Things might just get better in the near future as Charlie Morton and Jeff Karstens return from their injuries that have kept them on the sidelines so far this season.

The following slideshow is a list of the five Pirates players that are most responsible for the team's solid start and hopefully they can keep it going for the rest of the year. As always, if you disagree with my selections please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Now let's raise the Jolly Roger.

2 of 6

5. Mark Melancon

.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Melancon has been a wonderful set-up man for the Pirates. He has allowed just two earned runs in 23 innings pitched and only one walk.

3 of 6

4. Garrett Jones

.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jones leads the team in runs batted-in with 24 and has a solid batting average of .281.

4 of 6

3. A.J. Burnett

.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Burnett has been everything the Pirates need in an ace even though he has a losing record. He has 79 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched.

5 of 6

2. Starling Marte

.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Marte has been a nice surprise at the top of the Pirates' lineup. He has a .305 batting average with five home runs and ten stolen bases. He also leads the team in runs scored.

6 of 6

1. Jason Grilli

.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One of the big questions coming into this season was, can Grilli replace Joel Hanrahan as the team's closer? Well the question has been answered with an emphatic, yes. Grilli is perfect in 17 save opportunities and has 31 strikeouts in just under 20 innings of work.

 

 

 

Around the Web