The Pittsburgh Pirates Must Figure Out The House Of Horrors
By Marty Leap
The Pittsburgh Pirates start a four game series in Milwaukee today. In this series, the Bucs must solve their problems in their house of horrors: Miller Park.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are still in the thick of the National League Wild Card race. The Pirates enter the day three games back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the loss column. However, the Pirates have a game in hand on the Cardinals and have six games remaining against the Red Birds this season.
However, the Pittsburgh Pirates are coming off of an extremely disappointing 1-5 home stand. Now the Pirates will travel to their house of horrors, Miller Park in Milwaukee. The Pittsburgh Pirates must solve their problems at Miller Park this weekend.
Anyone who follows the Pittsburgh Pirates know how much they have struggled at Miller Park in recent years. Since the start of the 2007 season, the Pirates are just 17-64 at Miller Park. This includes being swept in Milwaukee during their only trip there this season.
There is no reasonable explanation for the Pirates’ struggles in Milwaukee. Especially when you look at recent seasons. In 2013 the Brewers finished 74-88, in 2014 they finished 82-80 (and this included an epic collapse that would have made the 2012 Pirates jealous), in 2015 they finished 68-94, and so far in 2016 they are just 55-70. While over these seasons the Pirates finished 95-67, 88-74, 98-64 (making the postseason all three seasons), and this year they currently check in at 64-62.
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So despite the Pittsburgh Pirates being the far superior team the past four seasons, the Milwaukee Brewers have continued to dominate them at Miller Park. As I said above, there is no reasonable explanation for this. And it must change starting tonight.
At the start of the season the Milwaukee Brewers did not have much talent. Since the start of the season, their talent level has only decreased. In their rebuilding effort the Brewers have traded catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and their two best relief pitchers Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress this summer.
Currently, the Brewers rotation and bullpen are both utter dumpster fires. Outside of Ryan Braun and Jonathan Villar, their lineup is not much better. There is no reason the Pittsburgh Pirates should lose their four game series at Miller Park this weekend.
This season the Milwaukee Brewers rank 21st in the Majors in ERA (4.37), 26th in FIP (4.51), and 26th in xFIP (4.53). Furthermore, Brewers’ pitchers have issued the seventh most walks in all of Major League Baseball this season. There is zero reason why Pirate hitters should not feast on Milwaukee pitching this weekend.
The Brewer offense is not much better. Milwaukee ranks 24th in the Majors in runs scored per game (4.11), 24th in slugging percentage (.401), 25th in batting average (.246), and they lead the Majors in strikeouts. So much like Pirate hitting, their is no reason why Pirate pitching can not have a successful weekend.
Due to how poor the Brewers pitching and hitting is, the Pittsburgh Pirates must take at least three of four this weekend. Anything less than three wins this weekend is a failure, in my opinion. Plain and simple, the team that will be opposite the Pirates this weekend is far inferior to them.
As always in baseball, this weekend will come down to starting pitching. The Pittsburgh Pirates will send Chad Kuhl, Ryan Vogelsong, Jameson Taillon, and Ivan Nova to the mound this weekend. Luckily for the Pirates, all four of these pitchers have been doing great work lately. However, nothing can ever be taken for granted at Miller Park.
The Pirates curse at Miller Park is one of the strangest, most inexplicable things in all of sports. With the Pirates’ postseason hopes getting close to life support, combined with the Brewers being a terrible team, that must change this weekend. If not, the inability to win at Miller Park may prove to be what does the 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates in.