Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Second Half Schedule Could Prove Rough Seas For Buccos...

OK, the Pirates have been on fire lately. Let's hope the afterglow burns bright as a bumpier road is in store after the break.

First, regression is very likely to step in: it's not easy to keep up a .710 win percentage as the team's done in the past two months; just ask the Cards. And the next 28 games are all testers one way or another, with 19 on the road where Pittsburgh is 21-19.

Bucs charging into a challenging second half of the season (photo Fox Sports)
The Bucs go to Miller Park for three and then to Kansas City. The Brew Crew was a wreck early on when the Pirates rolled over them, but they've won 13 of their last 19 games and have that Miller Mojo. The Royals, with 52 wins, are the AL's best club. Then Pittsburgh comes home for a four gamer against the Nationals, who are quiet with the bats but have 48 victories and swept the Pirates in June at DC.

The club packs its bags again and heads to Minnesota; the Twins already have a short sweep of the Bucs in Pittsburgh. That's followed by four games with the Reds, who have a 7-2 record against the Buccos so far this year.

They return to the banks of the Allegheny for three game sets against the Cubs and Dodgers, the team behind them in the NL Central trailed by the best in the west with some all-star arms. That's capped by a three gamer at Busch Stadium against St. Louis and three more against the Mets and their young but blossoming pitching staff.

After that, they get a break in the scheduling and mostly home cooking through the remainder of August. September on will be a grinder through the dog days.

It starts with a nine game road trip against the Brewers, Cards and Reds, followed by seven at PNC Park versus the Brew Crew & Cubs. That's followed by a 10 game western swing against the Dodgers, Rox and Cubs. They close the regular season at home with three gamers against the Cards and Reds that carries to October 4th.

The Pirates play 32 games in that span with just two days off, 19 contests on the road and 25 against division rivals. The Cards second half opponents have a .491 winning percentage up to now, and the Redbirds will play 39 more games at Busch Stadium (where they are 31-11) compared to just 34 on the road.

From Friday on, the Pirates have 74 games remaining. 41 are on the road, the MLB high for the post-ASG slate, and 39 of the 74 are against NL Central foes. The first half of the season has been a great ride. The second half, though, may have a speed bump or two, especially if one of the three amigos at the top of the rotation gets dinged or another starting position player goes down. They have been remarkably injury free at the MLB level so far this year.

How well the Bucs hold up on the road, under playoff pressure and against an formidable schedule, will tell the tale of 2015.

No comments: