The last few seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates have all pretty much followed the same pattern, and it would not be a surprise if the 2020 season went the same way.
No one has gone through a true rollercoaster of emotions until they have watched a full 162-game Pittsburgh Pirates baseball season. There are always plenty of low points, a few promising moments, even fewer high points, and the occasional absolute meltdown towards the back half of the season. Fellow Pirates fans, you might as well get ready to hop on that rollercoaster yet again for this upcoming season.
In 2017, we saw the struggling Pirates sweep the first place Brewers in four games at PNC Park. The Pirates only improved their record to 48-48, but that series had fans in the seats for every game and it led to a belief that the team could make something out of what seemed to be a hopeless season. They were only 3 games out of the top spot in the NL Central with 66 games left to play. However, the Pirates struggled mightily down the stretch and only won 27 of those remaining 66 games.
2018 was one of the strangest seasons in the recent history of the Pittsburgh Pirates. For most of the season, the pitching staff struggled after losing Gerrit Cole and the offense was anything but productive. However, the team pulled an 11-game win streak out of no where that put them right into the thick of things in the NL Central.
This was an unprecedented run for this ball club. The offense was hammering the baseball so much that Greg Brown referred to them as the new-looked “Lumber Company” on multiple occasions. The pitching was good enough and role players were stepping up. The win streak also included a five game sweep of the Brewers right before the All-Star Break.
On behalf of all Pirates fans, nobody saw any of this coming. The fifth and final game against the Brewers was one of the craziest games in recent memory. The absolute beatdown of the Indians in Cleveland during the first two games of the series. It was insane. The hot streak would then die down after another month or so, and the Pirates only finished 3 games above .500.
As most fans remember, last season was a very up and down type of year for the Buccos. The team started out 12-6 and it sparked an early belief that this team could be successful in 2019. That thought didn’t last very long at all, as they lost their next eight games. They were able to hover at around .500 before going 4-12 to start the month of June.
However, this is where they pulled another hot streak out of nowhere. Bryan Reynolds hit a clutch homer to beat the Tigers, they swept the Padres, and blew out the Astros in 2 out of 3 games. After losing 2 of 3 to the Brewers, they returned to PNC Park for the final homestand before the All-Star Break in need of a positive stretch. In that stretch of games, they got exactly what they needed. The team went 5-2 against the Cubs and Brewers to place themselves just 2.5 games out of first place heading into the All-Star Break. Sadly, one of those late-season meltdowns occurred immediately after the break. They went an abysmal 25-48 to end the season and finished with a disappointing 69-93 record, and that’s exactly why it’s a complicated life as a Pirates fan.
Where could there be a stretch of games where the Pirates might get hot in 2020? Where could there be an absolute meltdown? Who knows, but it is almost certain that there will be at least one of these coming in 2020.