At the start of the season, there was a lot of talk about the difficult April schedule that the Pirates faced. Pittsburgh was going up against a lot of difficult teams, and it seemed like every game they played in was against a top pitcher.
Some pointed out at the time that the schedule would even out. It didn’t matter much that the Pirates played all of those tough teams in April. They’d have to play those teams at some point during the 162 game schedule. That was true, but the point of noting the tough April schedule was that we wouldn’t get an idea of how good or bad the team was, since their schedule wasn’t exactly balanced.
Of course the flip side to all of that is that at some point during the year, the Pirates would have an easy stretch in their schedule. And it looks like that time is approaching.
Pat Lackey and James Santelli were pointing this out on Twitter this afternoon. The Pirates are 35-32 so far this year. They’ve been beating up on weak teams, with a league-best 19-8 record against teams below .500. And from now until the end of July they have a lot of games against teams below .500. Take a look at the schedule.
Chicago Cubs (5 games) – 24-44 record
Colorado Rockies (3) – 25-41
Detroit Tigers (3) – 33-34
Houston Astros (8) – 28-41
Miami Marlins (3) – 33-34
Milwaukee Brewers (3) – 31-37
Minnesota Twins (1) – 26-40
Philadelphia Phillies (4) – 32-37
St. Louis Cardinals (3) – 34-34
San Francisco Giants (3) – 38-31
In the next 36 games, the Pirates play three games against teams with a record above .500. The only team they will play that is currently above .500 will be the San Francisco Giants. The three games against St. Louis are the only other games against a team that isn’t currently below .500. And the key will be the 17 games against Minnesota, Houston, Colorado, and the Chicago Cubs — four of the worst teams in the majors.
It was somewhat of a surprise that the Pirates had a decent month of April, considering their tough schedule. The importance of pointing out the schedule was to keep that perspective. The fact that the Pirates stayed close to .500, despite the rough schedule, said something.
I don’t know if the upcoming month and a half will really make a statement about the team. If they win, it’s what they should do. They’ve got an easy schedule, and if they want to be taken seriously as contenders, they need to continue their success against poor teams. If they do continue that success, they could make a lot of noise in baseball. They probably won’t continue their .700+ winning percentage against teams below .500, but even if they win at a .600 rate over this span (which shouldn’t be out of the question considering the strength of schedule), they’d be sitting 57-46 on August 1st, 11 games above .500.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates lost 2-1 to the Twins.
**Pirates Notebook: Brad Lincoln will get another start on Saturday.
**Prospect Watch: Gerrit Cole Shines in Double-A debut and the GCL offense explodes again.