Welcome to the Pittsburgh Pirates Wake-Up Call, a daily feature here at RumBunter.com. Every morning at 9 AM, one of us will give you our random thoughts on the goings-on around the Pirates’ organization, and we’ll throw out a few links to some good Pirates-related items from around the web.
Prepping for the stretch run
Coming off their last off-day until September 14th, the Pirates are about the enter the final push of the regular season. The team currently sits 29 games over .500 and will have their third consecutive winning season here hopefully within the next week, so all should be well in Pirate land. Well, besides the fact that they are five games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. Now matter how well the Pirates play, the Cardinals manage to play just as well and never miss a beat. The good news? The Pirates have played two less games than the Cardinals, so that leaves an opportunity to gain a game on them without worrying about what the Cardinals do. They also play each other six more times, and the division may very well come down to that second-to-last series of the regular season to close out September. The bad news? 26 of the Pirates’ final 33 games are within the division, where they have fared poorly compared to their play outside of the division. Needless to say, the Pirates have a difficult road ahead. But if they somehow pull out the division title, they could very well be the favorite to win the World Series.
No waiver trade deadline deals
The August 31st waiver trade deadline has come and gone, and the Pirates didn’t add anyone. This isn’t surprising, considering the lack of any rumor surrounding the team this past month, and the fact that they already added players at the non-waiver deadline in July. The real additions this month have been the returns of Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, strengthening the bench, adding lineup flexibility, and giving Clint Hurdle a bevy of options to play with. The looming return of A.J. Burnett is also of vital importance to this team as the playoffs approach. The Cubs upgraded this month, but the Cardinals didn’t, and Harrison and Mercer could be enough to push the the Pirates over the top. A healthy Burnett wouldn’t hurt either. I don’t weight the lack of external additions this month against Neal Huntington in the slightest.
Who’s your postseason rotation?
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Two years ago, the Pirates went with a playoff rotation of Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, and Charlie Morton. Ironically enough, that may very well be the same rotation the Pirates use this postseason (if they get to the division series and beyond). I’m willing to bet this will be the postseason rotation. Some teams may go with three-man rotations, and I could see the Pirates doing that if they get past the division series. A lot hinges on how well Burnett performs when he returns. If he can’t return to form, the Pirates may have some difficulty in the postseason. I’m not going to bet on J.A. Happ maintaining his great pitching, and no one wants to see Jeff Locke pitch in a playoff game.
Around the net
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports recently ranked the toughest schedules for the playoff contenders, and he placed the Pirates as having the most difficult schedule remaining. It makes sense, considering the Pirates’ poor record against division opponents and the lack of time off in September. Check it out in full here.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are on pace to potentially have their best record since before 1910. This is a damn good Pirates’ team, and maybe we’ll get to see some magic down the stretch that gets them that elusive division crown.