Pittsburgh Pirates fans cautiously optimistic about their gathered young talent

How 'ready' are the Pirates to contend?

Chicago White Sox v Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago White Sox v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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Temperature of Pirates Fans on 2024 Contention Chances

Are the Pirates fans concerned? I was lucky to consult with Pirate Queen Banshee, a familiar face at Pirates home games and a well-known voice on Twitter/X. Queen Banshee is easily recognized in the North Side ballyard,as she and her husband generally show up to cheer on the Bucs dressed as though they wandered off the set of one of Johnny Depp’s pirate films. (They look great.)

And the Pirate Queen knows what the fans are saying. Asked whether she’s hearing that the fans think the Pirates are improving, she said:

“I’ve heard, read, and been told various opinions [about] what they think it means to improve…. Some think improvement or winning is over .500. Some won’t settle for anything less than NLDS. They won’t even accept a wild card slot because 'Been there. Done that.’”

Adding she personally feels the team is “moving in the right direction,” she lamented the loss of two players to injury: 6-foot-5 pitcher Johan Oviedo (4.31 ERA, 1.373 WHIP in ’23) and catcher Endy Rodriguez – both young and promising, both on the 60-day IL.

“It’s difficult for me to predict what this year will bring. With the Pirates having to scramble to fill those roles, any projection I had about 2024 is lost…,” said Queen Banshee.

One thing Pirates fans are undoubtedly happy about is the return of Andrew McCutchen.

It’s tempting to say that if, say, Perez and Reynolds don’t have career years, the Pirates will struggle to contend. Ditto for a slumping trio of Cruz, Gonzales, and Hayes. The team, of course, has other young players (read, Jack Suwinski) who might fill in during core players’ slumps.

What if Suwinski cut down his strikeouts by 50 while hitting 35 home runs?

Once again, the Pittsburgh Pirates are sort of a who-knows team, but one whose young players’ numbers may belie their actual talent. That talent needs to show up and be in concert for months in a row.