Following a 9-2 win over the division rival St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now a half game away from taking over the NL Central. A dominant pitching performance from Francisco Liriano and three-run home run from third baseman Pedro Alvarez propelled the Pirates to the win.
Over the last few years, the Pirates have had some good teams, and looked to have a shot at making the postseason at the All-Star break, only to fail. This year though, I think that trend will come to an end.
Yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates will make the postseason.
This year is a different team than the ones from recent memory. They have two star outfielders in Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, a power-hitting third baseman in Alvarez, and added starting catcher Russell Martin.
In addition to the hitting, they have the pitching to go right with it. Lefty Jeff Locke has emerged as one of the best young pitchers in all of MLB. With his 9-3 record and a dominant 2.15 ERA, his stuff has been filthy. Add in A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and youngster Gerrit Cole, and you’ve got yourself a legitimate playoff pitching staff.
In order to make the playoffs, the Bucks have to beat the best in their division, and they will try to make it two wins in a row on Tuesday against the Cardinals. The Pirates will call on Burnett for the start, while the Cardinals will send Tyler Lyons to the mound in the first game of the doubleheader. In game 2, Lance Lynn will get the call, and the Pirates will send Jeanmar Gomez to start.
Tuesday is a pivotal doubleheader for both. The Cardinals will try to keep their ever-so-small division lead, while the Pirates can start to smell first place.
You can follow Reece Helms on Twitter at: @Reece_Helms