Repeat after me: there’s no such thing as a must-win game on August 5th. This series in Cincinnati has been disappointing thus far, but the Pirates haven’t played terrible baseball and they’ve been right smack in the middle of things despite some weird events on Friday and an awful game from their best player on Saturday. If the Pirates win today, they’ll be 4 1/2 games behind the Reds and in position for a wild card spot with 55 games left in the season. That’s not a bad place to be. If the Pirates lose today, they’ll be 6 1/2 games behind the Reds and in position for a wild card spot with 55 games left in the season. That’s a worse place to be in, obviously, but not really by all that much.
Earlier in the week, AJ Burnett stepped on the mound and gave the Pirates an incredible performance when they really needed it. It’s pretty much the same situation today; the Bucs have lost two disappointing games in a row, the Bucs need a win to keep their deficit in the division manageable, and the Bucs need some kind of veteran presence to step up. They need more from McCutchen and Walker, sure, but they need Burnett to come in and keep the Reds off the board early and to give the Pirates’ offense some time to get something together against Homer Bailey. This isn’t a must-win game because must-win games don’t exist on August 5th, but this is a big game for the Pirates nonetheless.
First pitch today is at 1:10.