Pirates Pennant Chase: Brewers Schedule Factor
By Tom Smith
Those damn Milwaukee Brewers….
The Pittsburgh Pirates are staring up at the Milwaukee Brewers. The club has been for a while now actually. The Brewers, please don’t throw up, have been in first place since April 5.
Looking at what lies ahead for the Brewers is crucial for the Pirates chances at the post season. The toughest club on the schedule would be when they play the St. Louis Cardinals. That happens seven more times this season.
The Brewers schedule, on the surface at least, looks easy. Three games against San Diego who are nine games below .500, six games against the Cubs who are fourteen games below .500, three games against the Marlins at home–who are a game under .500 and six against the Reds who are five games under.
Add it all up and it’s 18 games against teams that are under .500. 13 games against teams that are over five hundred–seven against Cards, three against Pittsburgh, and three against San Francisco.
But let’s look closer. (So I’m saying there is a chance….)
Edinson Volquez needs a new contract.
The road loving Brewers have 72 wins and are in San Diego tonight. The Crew are 52-7 when outhitting their opponent, the best mark in the Majors. But the Friars combat with one of the hottest pitchers in baseball goes for the Padres tonight. Southpaw Eric Stults has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his four August starts, during which he’s 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA.
The Padres pitching staff has been one of the best in the National League since the All-Star break. The Padres are 12-9 in August thanks to the third best ERA in the NL.
The Brewers then head to San Francisco to take on the Giants. For Pittsburgh, this could be where any ground that might be made up comes to a halt. Pitching has been a weakness this month for San Francisco as the club is 10-11. The numbers show the Giants staff is rather similar to the Bucs this month.
The Pirates and Giants pitching staffs have been rather similar in August.
The Brewers finish up the road trip by heading to Chicago for three games against the Cubs. Look closer and you will notice that Chicago has won 13 games in August behind some solid pitching. The Cubs staff has an August ERA of 3.07 which is second best in the NL.
Aug 22, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) points to his infielders during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The second to last home stand for Milwaukee includes four against the Cardinals, three against the Marlins and three against the Reds. The last road trip of the year for the beer makers sends them to St. Louis for what should certainly be three crucial games. The Brew Crew will then roll into the ‘Burgh for three and then finally to Cincy. The Brewers finish the month with three games at home against the Cubs.
The Pirates are going to need some help and that help will likely come from the Cardinals. The Padres and the Cubs continuing to pitch well will assist the Pirates efforts. What won’t help is if Ryan Braun stops chasing pitches outside the zone.
One interesting number we like to look at is runs scored. It’s an important number. On the year, the Brewers have scored 559 runs good for second in the NL. The Bucs are tenth in MLB, fourth in the NL with 553 this year. But the Pirates offense has 162 runs since the All-Star break, fourth most in MLB. The Brewers have scored 136, the Cardinals just 130 since the break.
It’s damn obvious that the Bucs pitching isn’t cutting it, but there is no question the Pirates have a fighting chance if they can keep scoring runs as they have done since the break.