Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett and Jeff Locke are expected to have more quality starts than not at this point for the Pittsburgh Pirates. We are accustomed to seeing a number less than three for the majority of their box score lines. Even rookie Gerrit Cole has emerged as someone that we expect good to great outings from on a regular basis. The fact that all of these guys are regularly providing the Pirates with quality starts is no secretive reason why they are battling for the top spot in the National League Central. When Charlie Morton is chipping in with his own top bill stuff like he has of late, there may be only time between the Pirates and the N.L. Central pennant.
Everyone understands that pitchers do not always have their best stuff every night. Even the best starters in history have an off night here or there. That is acceptable. What really takes a team over the hump this time of the year is having enough top of the line starters that when one falters, the rest pick him up with a shut down start of their own. If Liriano gets shelled one night it’s okay because the guys behind him can help the Pirates reel off four straight hard fought wins.
That is how a team wins it all and that is what is going to take this team to victory in the division. There is no race in MLB like the one going on behind and including the Pirates right now. The offense of these teams is vitally important but even that is going to take a backseat to the team that has the best pitching from here on out. The team that comes up with the most quality starts between now and the end of September will be the one riding high into the postseason. The way things are going right now, the team that wins the central might also be the team that holds the best record.