This far in the season, it’s hard not to be happy with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but then again, we’re only four games in, with a million to go.  

Newer additions to the Buccos roster have helped tremendously in the first series, a series in which the Pirates swept the despicable St. Louis Cardinals, to open up the season. 

Oh, and it was at PNC Park, which means last Wednesday was the first time since the 1973 season that the Pirates have swept a opening series at home. 

And for the record, the team Pittsburgh swept to start that season were the Red Birds as well, at Three Rivers Stadium. 

Anyway, back to the present. 

Newcomers John Jaso and David Freese have shown their worth in the early stages of the season, but more impressively, so has Juan Nicasio. 

The 6-foot-4 right hander only allowed two hits in his six innings on the mound, and made the Cardinals line-up, which kept up with Pittsburgh just one night earlier, look easy to sit down, in the 5-1 win.

Nicasio’s four-seamer averages about 94 mph. Not too shabby for a 29 year-old thats been in the league for 10 years. 

He elected free agency, after only a year in Los Angles, December 2, 2015, and only eight days later, Pittsburgh signed him. 

Well done Neil Huntington, well done. 

His first MLB debut was in 2011, with the Colorado Rockies, and his records for his last five years aren’t overly impressive. 

But, he wasn’t an absolute mess.

His worst year was his final year in Colorado, in 2014. Nicasio had a 5.38 ERA, and had 6-6 record, on 93 innings pitched. 

A year after that, he bounced back recording a 3.86 ERA, with the Dodgers, and now, he’s under the wing of “Uncle” Ray Searage. 

His translation from spring training to the regular season has been terrific so far, but there’s plenty of games left in the season. 

Hopefully, newcomer Jonathon Niese and Ryan Vogelsong follow suit, although Niese didn’t have the greatest of performances in the Grapefruit League or his first start.

According to the Pirates fantasy projections, Nicasio is on track to have a pleasant year. The projections estimate the Dominican native will be on the mound for about 128 innings, which would be the first time he’s peaked over 100 since 2013. 

There’s still 158 games left — hopefully more — but I think this guy, along with ace Gerrit Cole, could make for a fun season. Not to mention the Pittsburgh defense is one of, if not the best, in the league. 

After 36 years, it would be nice to have the Commissioner’s Trophy back in the ‘Burgh, and the 2016 Pirates, questionably, have the arsenal to do it.

Let’s just hope the cards keep falling into place.


Lohr is the sports editor of The Herald. He can be reached at 827-3634, or at

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