The Pittsburgh Pirates Just Need To Avoid A Sweep At Wrigley Field

Aug 18, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) leaves the game against the Milwaukee Brewers during the sixth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 18, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) leaves the game against the Milwaukee Brewers during the sixth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates start a three game series at Wrigley Field on Monday night. While a series victory would be great, the Pirates just need to avoid being swept.

Right now the Pittsburgh Pirates are flying high. The Pirates are coming off of a four game series sweep at Miller Park in Milwaukee. This was the first time in franchise history that the Pirates swept a four game series in the city of Milwaukee.

Entering that series Miller Park had been the Pirates’ house of horrors. The Pittsburgh Pirates had lost nine straight, and 64 of their last 81, games played at Miller Park. However, the Bucs were able to beat up on a bad Brewers team over the weekend. And now the Pirates head to another ballpark that they have not had a lot of success at in recent years. That ballpark is Wrigley Field in Chicago.

The biggest difference between Miller Park and Wrigley Field is that Wrigley, unlike Miller Park, is home to a great team. In fact, Wrigley Field houses the best team in baseball in the Chicago Cubs. The 82-47 Cubs enter this series with the best record in all of Major League Baseball.

This will be the Pittsburgh Pirates third and, thankfully, final trip to Wrigley Field this season. So far in 2016 the Pirates are just 1-5 at Wrigley Field. And this comes after the Pirates went 4-5 at Wrigley field in 2015.

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This series will not be an easy one for the Pittsburgh Pirates. On Monday night they will face arch nemesis Jake Arrieta, while Steven Brault will make just his third career start for the Pirates. Things will not get much easier when the Pirates see Kyle Hendricks and Mike Montgomery on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Unfortunately for the Pirates, while they are playing the best team in baseball the team they are competing with for the second National League Wild Card spot, the St. Louis Cardinals, will be playing one of the worst teams in baseball. On Monday night the Cardinals start a three game series with the Milwaukee Brewers team the Pirates just swept. So odds are the Cardinals are going to, at least, win two of three in their next series.

Meanwhile the two teams directly behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Miami Marlins and New York Mets, start a four game series with each other on Monday night. Due to this, the Pirates, barring a series split, will have the opportunity to put some space between themselves and either the Marlins or Mets. But to do this the Pirates need to earn at least one victory at Wrigley Field.

Next: Pirates Sweep Brewers

It may seem like a tall task but it is critical the Pirates avoid being swept in this series. After this series the Pirates’ schedule lightens up for the month of September. But to be in the best position to take advantage of this, the Bucs need to get at least one win against the Cubs.

After this series with the Cubs the Pirates will have 31 games left. 18 of these 31 games will come against the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, and Philadelphia Phillies. And these three teams have a combined record of just 171-218, which is a winning percentage of just .439.

Furthermore, 17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ final 31 games will be at PNC Park. And of the 14 games that are on the road four are in Philadelphia against the lowly Phillies, three are at Miller Park where the Pirates just swept a four game series, and three are at Busch Stadium in St. Louis where the Pirates are 5-2 this season. As I said above, once the Pirates get on the other side of this Cubs’ series the schedule sets up favorable for them.

Since June 24th the Pittsburgh Pirates have 32 wins which is tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second most in the National League. The team with the most? Yep, you guessed it, the Chicago Cubs. If the Pirates continue to play the way they have since June 24th, then they will avoid a sweep in this series and will make the postseason.

In my opinion, the Pittsburgh Pirates just need to avoid being swept at Wrigley Field this week. As long as the Pirates do this, they will still be in great shape in terms of making the postseason. Even if they get swept, depending on what the Cardinals do against the Brewers, they could still be just fine. But right now every series is vital.