Inbox: How will Pirates bolster offense?

Beat reporter Adam Berry answers questions from Bucs fans

Inbox: How will Pirates bolster offense?

ST. LOUIS - The Pirates have played 15 games -- five sweep-or-be-swept series. It's not enough to draw sweeping conclusions -- pardon the pun -- but it's more than enough to spark curiosities and prompt questions.

We'll answer a few of yours in the first Pirates Inbox of the season.

There is not. The Pirates' best chance to improve is getting more out of the guys they have.

General manager Neal Huntington described April trades as "not real" so soon after Spring Training and so far from the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31. There aren't any remaining free agents that would pique your interest, and it's hard to say if any of them would be better than what the Bucs currently have.

Veteran outfielder Angel Pagan, the one player who made some sense for the Pirates after Starling Marte's 80-game suspension, reportedly said he is going to sit out this season.

The Bucs' depth has been tested early. Keep in mind: This club was built to have Jung Ho Kang at third and Marte in center. The bench, in a perfect world, would have included David Freese, John Jaso, Adam Frazier, Chris Stewart and Phil Gosselin or Alen Hanson. Freese is starting in Kang's absence, and now Frazier or Jaso will find their way into the lineup in Marte's place.

The bench at-bats that might have gone to Freese will now go to Jose Osuna or Gosselin. Gosselin is 1-for-13 this season. Osuna didn't break camp with the Pirates, and he's now probably their biggest power threat off the bench. He recorded three outs with two swings in his first big league action.

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The natural follow-up question: Who's waiting in Triple-A? We've established that top outfield prospect Austin Meadows won't be up soon. Huntington said Meadows is not ready. They simply can't rush a player who is that important to their future.

Realistically, that leaves Jason Rogers, who struggled last season and isn't on the 40-man roster, and a bunch of players better known for their defense: utility men Max Moroff, Gift Ngoepe and Chris Bostick and catcher Elias Diaz.

How big of an issue is it that all five starting pitchers are right-handed? Don't we need at least one lefty?
-- Tera P., Pittsburgh

It's not an issue if they pitch well, and for the most part, they have. The Pirates' rotation has a 3.41 ERA so far this season, which is good for sixth best in the Majors.

Gerrit Cole is healthy, and it seems like he is getting sharper each time out. Jameson Taillon has been outstanding. It looks like Ivan Nova's resurgence is real. Chad Kuhl has given the Bucs a chance to win each time out, and Tyler Glasnow took some strides forward in his most recent start.

Even with an All-Star performance, do you see Andrew McCutchen remaining a Pirate much longer?
-- Matt M., Las Vegas

That depends on what you mean by "much longer." If the Pirates find themselves contending around the non-waiver Trade Deadline, it's hard to imagine them dealing McCutchen like they traded Mark Melancon last season. But frankly, it's just as difficult to see McCutchen making it to the next Opening Day in Pittsburgh given his contract status and the trade buzz last offseason.

If anything, a return to form from McCutchen may hasten his exit if the Bucs fall out of the postseason race this summer. That would increase his trade value and, subsequently, the number of interested teams.

Fingers crossed, Jonesy, that this streak will go on to become one of those only-in-baseball historical oddities. But I think it's safe to assume they will split a series at some point this year, maybe even this weekend.

This early on, it's difficult to draw any sort of conclusions about this sweep-or-be-swept season. But it did create the early frontrunner for the Pirates' quote of the season, from Jaso:

"It's bizarre," he said. "Such is this game, and such is life."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.