To call the upcoming three game series against the Cincinnati Reds a big one for the Pittsburgh Pirates would be an understatement. Saying it is the biggest series for the Bucs in the last two decades may be a little more accurate.
You don’t want to overstate and blow thing out of proportion, it’s only three games at the beginning of August. No matter what happens, good or bad, there will still be 55 games left on the season. That’s plenty of time to make up ground, especially since there are still a pair of series’ against the first-place Reds remaining.
But it’s a big weekend for the Pirates nonetheless.
Even though the Bucs are a solid 5-4 on the season against the Reds, these three games could represent where they stand. Notice I said could. Taking 2-of-3 would be very nice, picking up a game in the standings in the process. However winning one out of three or even getting broomed in Cincinnati wouldn’t be the end of the world for the Bucs. There are no must-win games at the beginning of August. There just aren’t. So much can happen in the next two months whether the Pirates win this series or not.
Yet it has the feel of something so much more.
While indeed this series won’t make or break their season, that still doesn’t mean it’s not big for Clint Hurdle’s Pirates.
It’s without a doubt the biggest series of the season for the Pirates and they catch a break not having to face Joey Votto or Johnny Cueto, but it’s still going to be tough regardless. It’s also not clear if Brandon Phillips will play for the Reds this series.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that while the Bucs have put up a 12-7 record after the All-Star break and have MLB’s best record since mid-May; they have lost ground this month. That’s due in fact to the Reds posting an insane 17-3 record since the break.
However there’s also some more good news as Hurdle has reshuffled the Bucs rotation thanks to the day off on Thursday.
Staff ace A.J. Burnett will indeed pitch this series now as he has been moved up to Sunday to take on the Reds’ Homer Bailey. The other pitching matchups look like this: Wandy Rodriguez will start against Mat Latos on Friday and James McDonald will take the mound against Mike Leake on Saturday.
Again, this is big for the Bucs. I don’t want to understate that.
But it’s not the end of the world no matter what happens.
However having said that, it sure would be nice to head into Cincinnati and make a statement.