The Pittsburgh Pirates can do something in 2015 that fans probably would have thought to be impossible just five years ago – make the playoffs for the third year in a row. After a staggering 20-year absence from post-season play, the Pirates have won at least 88 games in each of the past two seasons and have the talent to do so again in 2015.
Russell Martin is no longer with the Pirates, which could be a huge blow to their defensive ability (FanGraph graded his 2014 season as the best catcher-defense season in the past decade), but Pittsburgh otherwise returns the same crew on offense. In comes a familiar face in pitcher A.J. Burnett, big hitter Corey Hart and the top player in the Korea Baseball Organization, Jung-Ho Kang. With an already stout roster and some quality additions, Pittsburgh just might be even better in 2015.
Fans will get to see how much better right away on opening day, when the Pirates head to Cincinnati to take on the Reds at the Great American Ball Park. According to ScoreBig, Pirates tickets will understandably be a tad high and will come in around $165.45 on average ($62 for the cheap seats). That compares nicely to a season average of about $145, while Reds tickets largely see a spike from their average (just $80.98) due to Pittsburgh’s prowess and this game being Cincy’s home opener. Fans can see a solid discount throughout the remainder of the series, as the next two games are just $39 and $28, respectively.
What the Pirates do against the Reds won’t tell us much. Cincinnati was just 76-86 a year ago and few experts have them pegged as a legit playoff contender. The Pirates as we know them are a talented bunch, though, as they can produce runs (10th in MLB in 2014) and also field a top-10 pitching rotation. If Burnett can offer anything and Kang ends up being anything remotely close to what many think he can be, the Pirates should be right back in the thick of the playoff chase again in 2015.