Pittsburgh Pirates Look for Consolation in Philly

Jul 16, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws against the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 16, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws against the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

Times are looking bleak for our Pittsburgh Pirates. After a four-game series loss at home to the bottom-dwelling Reds, the Pirates find themselves on the outside looking into the Wild Card race, a whole six games behind the Mets. Now, they head to Philly for four more, looking for some consolation wins and maybe an outside shot at a playoff run.

I know Pittsburghers aren’t the type to throw in the towel when the going gets tough, but I think it’s safe to say the Pirates might want to start thinking about next season. I dislike it as much as everyone else, but numbers don’t lie. The Pittsburgh Pirates are three games under .500 at 69-72, and six games out of the second Wild Card spot with only 21 games remaining in their season. I know it’s not impossible for the Bucs to sneak in, but having only won two of their last ten games, things are looking grim.

Still, there is hope. The Pirates roll into Philadelphia for a four-game series against a pretty woeful team. The Phillies are 63-80 and in a pretty unsatisfactory run of form as well, having gone 3-7 in their last ten games. It’s do or die for the Buccos now. They can either kick themselves into high gear, or lay down and die and hope for brighter days in 2017. Here is what you can look for this week in Philly.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Monday: Gerrit Cole (7-9, 3.55) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (10-9, 3.90)

Tuesday: Ivan Nova (5-0, 2.53) vs. Alec Asher (1-0, 0.00)

Wednesday: Steven Brault (0-2, 3.38) vs. Jake Thompson (1-5, 6.05)

Thursday: Chad Kuhl (3-3, 4.09) vs. Jerad Eickhoff (10-13, 3.73)

Monday’s pitching matchup will be one to watch out for. If you took Gerrit Cole’s name away from that pitching matchup above and just showed the stat line, 7-9 with a 3.55 ERA looks like a fairly average pitcher. 7-9 with a 3.55 ERA in 20 starts is not a stat line that is associated with Gerrit Cole, the Pirates’ ace that we have all grown to trust and love, very often. Coming back from a stint on the 15-day disabled list after battling right elbow inflammation, Cole will look to regain form in his first start back.

You can tell Cole’s subpar performance is eating away at him. I’m sure Cole is itching to get back and stake his claim at superstardom again. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any time to shake off any rust. The Pirates need to win, and they need to win now. It will be interesting to see if Cole can overcome the pressure he puts on himself to catapult the Buccos to a late-season Wild Card run.

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Players to Watch

Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Bell and Andrew McCutchen

Like I said above, maybe it’s time for the Pirates to look ahead to next season. And who comes up in conversation about future Pirates’ prospects more than Josh Bell? No one does, and for good reason. Bell has solidified himself as one of the most exciting future stars in the Pirates organization with an incredible power bat that can take pitches the other way. But he has to continue his development in the field. He has gotten some starts in right field recently and hasn’t done anything too calamitous, but he definitely hasn’t seemed comfortable either. Hurdle could put him at either first base or at right field, and it will be worth keeping an eye on the fielding development of the future stud.

Well, Buccos fans, someone has to pose the question. Is this the end of Andrew McCutchen? We all thought he was due to turn it around at some point, but it never came. His stats are bad. It’s not that they’re subpar. They’re bad. He’s hitting .247 with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs. And if this is the end for our beloved Cutch, how long do we wait to see if he can turn it around? The Pirates’ front office has some big choices to make, and it will be intriguing to see how this saga pans out.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco

Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco are two of the more bright spots on a fairly bleak Phillies roster. They aren’t necessarily the best players in the world, but it’s nice to see two guys who just love to play the game of baseball. I know some crotchety baseball “purists” will say that the flashy behavior and bat flips are bad for the game, but I love it. These two are players to watch because it’s important for baseball fans to remember that, at the end of the day, these are just kids out playing a game they love. And even though they’re slightly-above-average players on a pretty bad team, it is nice to see some players showing joy every time they get out on the diamond.

Final Verdict

These are upsetting times for Bucco fans. We’ve enjoyed success so much over the last few years. So much that it seems as though we’ve forgotten about the 20 consecutive losing seasons. I guess we’ve just been spoiled over the last few seasons, but this year still definitely stings to see so much potential go to waste. Still, the Pirates have a decent shot to at least get going in the correct direction this week against the Phils.


The Bucs leave Philly with a series split, with two wins going to each team. And the Phillie Phanatic and the Pirate Parrot only get in three fistfights.

Go Bucs.