Found August 27, 2013 on
The Cardinals took a half game lead in the NL Central today.
The next two weeks are going to be the biggest weeks in the NL Central playoff race. This is something that gets said before every series between the Cardinals and Pirates, Reds and Pirates, or Cardinals and Reds. It’s true for all of those matchups, because this is a tight division race, and every game counts. But the next two weeks are going to be the biggest two weeks of the series, and that’s not hyperbole at all.
The Pirates play the Cardinals six times in that stretch. They also play Milwaukee six times.
Aside from the six games against the Pirates, the Cardinals play the Reds six more times, after beating them tonight and taking a half game lead in the NL Central.
The Reds have three games in Colorado, which is a tough place to play, and three games against the Dodgers.
The most important thing for the Pirates is to win. That’s pretty obvious, but no matter what happens with the Reds and the Cardinals, the Pirates will be in this race if they keep winning. They possibly have the best schedule of the three teams during this stretch. The games against the Cardinals look rough on paper, but the Pirates have played well against St. Louis this year (8-5 record). In previous years the six games against Milwaukee would be circled on the calendar, but the Pirates have reversed their losing ways against the Brewers, going 9-4 so far this year. It will help that Milwaukee is without Ryan Braun for all of those games.
While it’s obvious that the Pirates can stay in the race by winning, they might get some help by St. Louis and Cincinnati battling it out between each other. If one team dominates, that makes it a two team race, assuming the Pirates keep winning. If both teams tread water and exchange wins, then the Pirates have a chance to pull ahead of both teams with a good two weeks.
There’s going to be a lot of scoreboard watching in that span. Those games between the Cardinals and the Reds are going to be just as important as the games that Pittsburgh will be playing against Milwaukee.
It’s going to be a tight race until the end. Even if the Pirates go 4-2 against each of their opponents, and the Reds and Cardinals split, that only gives the Pirates a 2.5 game lead in the NL Central over the Cardinals. But they’d have a good chance of adding to that lead or maintaining it following that last Cardinals game. They would have three games on the road in Texas, followed by eight at home against the Padres and Cubs. If the Pirates take back the division lead, then that home stretch would be a prime opportunity to either expand that lead, or at least maintain it if the Cardinals also go on a winning streak.
The division won’t be decided in the next two weeks, but the final standings will be heavily influenced. It starts this week with six games at home. The Pirates have a .656 winning percentage at PNC Park, which is the second best winning percentage in the majors at home, trailing only the Atlanta Braves. That’s a good way to start this important stretch.
Links and Notes
**The newest episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast is up: P3 Episode 18: Prospect Talk With Pirates Farm Director Larry Broadway.
**Prospect Watch: Pimentel Struggles in Latest Start; Dickerson Hits 16th Homer
**Frank Coonelly: Replay System May Not Increase Game Length
**Kendrys Morales Claimed By an Unknown Team
**Top Performers: Glasnow’s Outing One of the Most Dominant of the Year
**Top Performers: Buckner Showing Off His Power; Hanson Heating Up in Altoona
**DSL Prospect Watch: Pirates2 Lose Badly to Tigers in Playoff Opener
**Minor League Schedule: Taillon Makes Fifth AAA Start Tonight
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
(Follow me on Twitter @jim_krug; opening image credit John Banks, Getty Images)
Buck; image credit cdn.newsday
1. With as big of a critic as I’ve been towards Pittsburgh Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington over the years, I have to give him some credit for yesterday’s waiver trade with the New York Mets, which brought the Buccos OF Marlon Byrd and C John Buck. Although OF Alfonso...
Alen Hanson is going to the Arizona Fall League.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are sending five players to the Arizona Fall League, led by top infield prospect Alen Hanson. The players are:
Zack Thornton, RHP – Thornton was acquired for Chris Resop, and has spent time with Indianapolis, Altoona, and Bradenton. In his time with Altoona he has a 2.32 ERA in 31 innings, with an 11.3 K/9...
TOP OF THE SYSTEM
A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today. Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. Rankings are from the mid-season rankings, and links on each name go to their Pirates...
Team President Frank Coonelly does not agree that MLB’s new challenge system will make games longer.
Major League Baseball’s planned challenge system for controversial calls will not necessarily make games longer, according to Pirates president Frank Coonelly.
Cutting down long-winded arguments between managers and umpires is part and parcel to the replay system MLB unveiled...
I don’t know why, but the MTV Video Music Awards are a must watch for me every year. It’s probably fueled by nostalgic reasons, remembering back when the VMAs were amazing. This year they opened with Lady Gaga. That can’t compare to the year where they opened with The Smashing Pumpkins, which was an amazing performance that didn’t feature Lady Gaga’s ass.
I still watch...
The Pittsburgh Pirates made news Tuesday before they even played a game to open their homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers. Prior to the game, general manager Neal Huntington announced the Pirates acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets in exchange for minor league infielder Dilson Herrera and the ol’ ‘player-to-be-named-later’ which...
Even after acquiring Marlon Byrd and John Buck, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still being active on the trade front. The Pirates are now trying to add arguably the best first baseman available.
Jon Heyman of CBS is reporting that the Pirates "have their eyes on" Twins first baseman Justin Morneau. It was believed that Morneau was likely to stay put in Minnesota, but with...
The Pittsburgh Pirates addressed two needs Tuesday, acquiring right fielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets.
The Pirates are last in the National League in OPS from their right fielders, and Buck will provide a veteran backup to Russell Martin with Michael McKenry out for the season after undergoing surgery on his left knee.
Byrd is batting .285 with an...
On Tuesday the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets to bolster their squad for the stretch run. According to reports, the team isn’t satisfied and has its eyes on an even bigger name to help its quest for a playoff spot.
John Heyman is reporting that the Pirates are looking hard at Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau...
The Pirates have officially reached the other side of the rebuilding process.
It was only a few years ago that we saw the Pirates trading away rentals, hoping to land a piece that would help them build for the future. Pirates fans were searching everywhere for information on the player they just acquired, trying to figure out what kind of player he could become in the future. Trades...
The poor performance from the bullpen tonight, with Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris both giving up runs with the Pirates tied late in the game, along with the weird bullpen useage by Clint Hurdle (I still have no idea why Bryan Morris pitched the eighth inning over Tony Watson tonight, or why Morris seems to be the guy Hurdle goes to before Watson every single time) are going to draw...
If you're trying to figure out if Tuesday was a good day in Met-land or not, rest assured it was fine.
It started with the trade of Marlon Byrd and John Buck to Pittsburgh. In return, the Mets got halfway decent low level second base prospect Dilson Herrera (I was going to make a joke about how he was "low level" because he was 5' 10", but then I realized...
The Pirates are still interested in Morneau.
The Pirates might not be done trading. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that they are still looking at Justin Morneau after the addition of Marlon Byrd this afternoon. Heyman says that the Twins would be willing to pay some of the $3 M that Morneau is owed over the final month of the year. He also says that while the Pirates paid a lot...
The Pirates acquired Marlon Byrd.rlon Byrd
The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the New York Mets, according to Adam Rubin.
Source: John Buck and Marlon Byrd to #Pirates. #mets
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) August 27, 2013
We heard earlier that an unknown team claimed Marlon Byrd, and obviously that team is the Pirates. Joel Sherman speculated...
A day after major changes for both franchises, the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets completed a trade that alters the remainder of the season for both.
The Mets were told their ace pitcher, Matt Harvey, would miss the remainder of the season due to a UCL tear. Meanwhile, the Pirates fell out of first place when the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds in dramatic...