Although it is still early May, the Pittsburgh Pirates are set to embark on a vital road trip beginning tonight in St. Louis
In baseball, you can never win a division championship in April or May. However, you can most certainly lose a division in April or May. This is why, despite it being early in the season, these games are still important to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Tonight, the team will begin a vital road trip. This road trip will take them to three cities and see them play 11 games in as many days. The trip will also cap off a stretch of 13 games in 13 days.
This 13 games in 13 day stretch is off to a frustrating start. The team appeared to be well on their way to starting it with a two-game sweep of the Texas Rangers. However, following poor bullpen management by Clint Hurdle the team collapsed in the 8th and 9th inning on Wednesday is a disastrous 9-6 loss.
The road trip will begin with a four-game series against their division rivals the St. Louis Cardinals. After this, the Bucs will then head West to play three game against the Arizona Diamondbacks and four against the San Diego Padres. All three of these teams currently own a winning record.
While the Pirates have yet to play the Padres this season, their results against the other two teams have not been pretty. They area combined 0-6 against the Red Birds and Snakes.
Luckily, the Pirates will start the trip by throwing their current three best starting pitchers. With their top two starts on the injured list, a lot of weight is on the shoulders of Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams, and Jordan Lyles, these three will pitch the first three games of their series in St. Louis.
The Pirates will enter this road trip with a record of 17-16. Due to poor defense, some questionable bullpen management by Hurdle, and crippling injuries, the Pirates could easily have a better record. However, through 33 games, 17-16 is where they are at.
Right now, this team does not have much margin for error. This road trip certainly will not win this team any divisional championships or wild card berths, but it could put the team behind the eight ball in each of these battles. A 3-8 or 2-9 road trip would put the team below .500 and could set a negative tone as they rev up for the summer months. However, a successful road trip, or, hell, even one where they just tread water and go 5-6 or 6-5, will put them in a position to be ready to make a run this summer.