First Pitch: Pirates Could Make a Lot of Noise in the Next Month

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.

**My live report of Gerrit Cole’s Double-A debut.

**Trade Values – Kevin Youkilis.

**Jordy Mercer Adjusting to a Lack of Playing Time.

**The daily minor league transactions. In addition to that, Matt Benedict was promoted to Bradenton.

**Wes Freeman has retired.

About Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He is a credentialed media member with every team in the Pirates’ system, including the Pirates themselves. He’s a regular guest on Extra Innings on 104.7, and makes regular appearances on ESPN 970, 93.7 The Fan, and TribLIVE Radio in Pittsburgh, as well as ESPN 1430 in Altoona and ESPN 1450 in State College.
  • JohnDreker

    The problem though is that the team has played well above it’s head and these things tend to have a way of evening themselves out. They may be 3 games over .500 but they have also given up 18 more runs than they have scored, so in reality they should probably be 32-35, not the other way around. The Cardinals won yesterday and are now 35-34, allowing 52 less runs than they have scored on the year. They are a better team right now than the Pirates. The team needs to add either one big bat or two bats like last year at the deadline, but they need to do it now if they want to compete, the luck will run out and we will see more games like last night rather than like the night before

    • salempirate

      Wholeheartily agree that the Bucs can’t wait till the trade deadline to make any moves. The GM has to sweeten the pot some to work out a deal for Headley. Span is likely in play too. Lots of wishful thinking from me, but Span and Headley would add a lot. Both walk at pretty good rates and K rates are below what Pirates typically do.

      • Lee Young

        I’m pretty confident that, if all it took was too ‘sweeten the pot’, we’d have one of those guys. I just have a feeling from all the articles out there that it is a non-existent trade market right now.

  • Greatone1210

    Big trades can be made. I am one of the few that thinks Taillon and a package deal could get us something pretty damn impressive in line with maybe Brett Lawrie, Starlin Castro, or something similar. We need a SS and one could be had for a great package. I also think a smaller package could fetch us a reasonable bat, corner infielder, etc. Also, Tabata and Presley are not cutting it. What do we do about this?

    • Lee Young

      Haven’t you read the articles showing that nobody is willing to deal? Or else they’re asking way too much.
      Guess not…..:)

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_46YTB5OO4O7UM2OVB44UZSTXNA Nate

        I’m still waiting for someone to give me an opinion as to what it might take to land any of the following: Clint Robinson (1B from KC), Ryan Lavarnway (C from Bos), Xander Bogaerts (SS from Bos), or CJ Cron (1B from Angels). I know that only Robinson or Lavarnway could help now, but I feel like all are attainable.
        Are any of these terribe ideas?
        Robinson for Tabata or Gorkys & a AA pitcher
        Lavarnway, Youk, Xander for Hanny, Polanco, & eating Youks contract
        CJ Cron for Justin Wilson
        Headley for Owens, Kingman, & Rojas, Jr
        I know, its alot.
        Youks & Hague can be 1B now, Robinson & Hague next year. Cron & Dickerson in the future
        Lavarnway & Sanchez can be our C tandem for years
        Bogaerts the SS in the future
        Headley can move to OF if we send Tabata to KC for Robinson
        ehhh…I’m just chuckin’ darts.

        • Lee Young

          Nate…none of those are bad ideas….but, as someone said, its not like going to a grocery store and ‘buying’ those players. Takes two to tango and nobody wants to tango it seems.

      • Greatone1210

        no, I have read the articles. the nice thing about this particular article is its talking about the next month or so. in that amount of time, a lot of things can and will change. so as of now, nobody is wanting to trade or are asking too much just like you said. my thoughts are predominantly geared to the next month.

  • BarryJT

    Rampant optimism. I like it.