Pirates will be playoff contender

The Pittsburgh Pirates stand a realistic chance to compete in the playoffs again this season.

The Pirates have competed in the National League Wild Card Game each of the past three years, seeing increasing momentum each year.

The Pirates return Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano to the mound, arguably one of the best front rotation combinations. Cole finished last season with 202 strikeouts in 208 innings. In the outfield, Pittsburgh boasts Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. McCutchen hit 23 homeruns and achieved a career high-tying 96 RBIs last season, according to pirates.mlb.com.

McCutchen, who played with a banged-up leg last season, will return to the roster completely healthy. Jung Ho Kang returns this season from a meniscus tear and fractured tibia in his left leg. Josh Harrison also returns from a left thumb injury.

Between players returning from injuries and new additions to the roster, the Pirates will be a contender for the playoffs.

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