Pittsburgh Pirates Second Half Preview
By Marty Leap
With a less than daunting remaining scheduled, the Pittsburgh Pirates are set up to be able to go on a run in the second half as they look to snap a three year postseason drought
At 2:20 PM on Friday, the Pittsburgh Pirates will kick off the second half of their 2019 schedule. The Pirates woke up on Friday morning owning a 44-45 record. Despite being a sub-.500 team right now, the Pirates are jsut 2.5 games out of first place in the National League Central, as well as 2.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot.
This weekend the Pirates will begin their final 73 games with a crucial three-game series at Wrigley Field against the NL Central leading Chicago Cubs. With a series sweep this weekend, depending on what the Milwaukee Brewers do, the Pirates could pole vault into first place in the division.
While there is no denying that this Pirate team has its warts. The starting rotation has been a major letdown, the bridge to Felipe Vazquez has become shaky with Keone Kela on the injured list and Kyle Crick struggling, and the team has struggled all season defensively. However, they are in a position to make a second half run.
During the first half of the MLB season there was no team that had more players go on the IL than the Pirates. Now, the team is starting to get healthy. Kela has started throwing simulated games and could start a rehab assignment this week, Gregory Polanco and Erik Gonzalez are currently rehabbing at Triple-A, and ace Jameson Taillon has started to throw from flat ground.
The trade deadline is also looming. During his tenure as Pirate general manager, Neal Huntington has always been busy at the trade deadline. Three of the last four years he has added starting pitching help at the deadline. Odds are, he will add starting pitching help before the end of the month.
After a sluggish 25 game stretch to start the season, the Pirate offense has become one of the most potent in the NL. After averaging just 3.1 runs per game in the first 25 games of the season, the Pirates have averaged 5.5 runs per game in their last 64 games played.
Finally, there is that remaining schedule. The Pirates have 73 games remaining. 45 of these 73 games are against teams that entered the All-Star Break at or below .500. So far this season, the Pirates are 24-13 against teams that are currently at or below .500.
Currently, the Pirates own a .649 winning percentage at .500 or below teams. Against teams above .500, they own .385 winning percentage. If they repeat these numbers the rest of the way, it puts the team on pace to win 84 games. The division leading Cubs are currently on pace for 85 wins. If they can steal a few games against .500+ teams, the Pirates have got a legitimate shot in this division.
The Pirates are in position to make a second half run. A potent lineup and a less than daunting schedule are the biggest reasons for this. Now, it is up to Clint Hurdle and his team to take advantage of this opportunity and go on a run in the next 73 games.