It is really hard to watch the Pirates’ season potentially slip away due to a pitching staff that has been obviously deficient since Day 0 of the 2014 season. It was clear in spring training that their starting pitching depth was suspect, and it’s been clear since May that the bullpen is not nearly good enough, and yet the rotation remains mostly unchanged and the bullpen has certainly not changed for the better since camp started in February. Even now, with Gerrit Cole scheduled to come back from the disabled list in this coming week, they’re still far from full strength as Charlie Morton will go on the disabled list with a hip problem to make room for Cole. I don’t think they’ve ever had more than two starters better than bottom-of-the-rotation types clicking at any point in this season.
And so this is where things stand today: the Pirates have lost four in a row. They haven’t lost five in a row since 2012. They’re a whopping 4 1/2 games behind a Brewer team that’s run out to an early lead on the Dodgers; that drops their chances of winning the division to about 17%, which is down about half from where it was a week or so ago. After Tuesday’s games, they held the first wild card with a 1 1/2 game lead on the Giants and Cardinals. They now find themselves 1 1/2 behind the Cardinals (who are winning right now) and 1/2 game behind the Giants (who are down 1-0 early). It’s too early and the wild card race is too close to say that this is a “must win” game for the Pirates, but if they can’t shore themselves up quickly, it is going to be too late to have much of a chance of winning the NL Central.
The first pitch today is at 5:05 for some reason. Edinson Volquez starts for the Bucs and Doug Fister goes for the Nationals.