By Jared Lankes
The Pirates were able to put themselves in a good position going into the All-Star break. Now, they sit at 46-43 and are in the thick of things in the wildcard and division race. Looking at their second half schedule, it’s no surprise that people think this team can make a serious run at getting to the playoffs once again. The thing people cite most is the huge chunk of games against teams that aren’t very good.
However, the biggest chunk of this comes against the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds. Combined, they have 16 games left against the Brewers and 11 against the Reds. So all in all, out of the 73 regular season games left, there are 27 against left for the Pirates that are against these two division foes. That equals more than a third of their remaining schedule.
It’s no secret that the Pirates have really struggled in recent years against these two teams. The Reds and Pirates seem to always be pretty even, but the struggles with the Brewers have been all too existent to ignore. Despite showing improvement against the Brewers in recent seasons, there is still an overall sense of frustration amongst people when the Pirates consistently lose head-scratchers to the Brewers.
This Pirates team can’t afford to struggle against these two teams like they did a season ago. They masked it in 2015 by playing insane outside of the division. This year, that’s not the case. To get up in the standings, it’s important to beat the teams that are dreaming that the season is over. Not many teams have as many games against teams like that than the Pirates. They’ve endured so much just to get to the point they are now. It would be a real shame if struggling against bottom-feeder teams ruined that.
Pirates have a real chance to make up plenty of ground in the playoff standings in the second half. Their schedule just about begs them to make a serious run. It would be hard to imagine they don’t make up ground if they simply do their job against teams that are packing it up once again in 2016.