After leading the National League Central for over a month, the Pittsburgh Pirates surrendered the lead to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night after a third consecutive ugly loss. The Pirates shouldn’t be afraid of a third collapse in a row, but they do need to worry about not winning the division because no one wants to only win the wild card. When examining the schedules of the Pirates, Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds, it is apparent that the Pirates are at a significant disadvantage.
Starting on Monday, the Pirates take a trip to Arlington, Texas for a three-game series against the Texas Rangers. Following that, the Pirates return home for a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs, four against the San Diego Padres and three against the Reds. They finish off their season with a three-game series at the Cubs and at the Reds.
The Cardinals have by far the easiest rest of the season schedule. On Tuesday, the Cardinals welcome the Milwaukee Brewers for a three-game series followed by another three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. Following that, the Cardinals travel to Colorado for a four-game series against the Colorado Rockies. The Cardinals’ final road trip of the season is at Milwaukee against the Brewers for three games. The Cardinals finish their season at home with a three-game series against the Washington Nationals and another three-game set against the Cubs.
The Reds have home a home series against the Cubs starting on Monday, followed by a nine-game road trip against the Brewers, Houston Astros and Pirates. They wrap up their season with six games at home against the New York Mets and the Pirates.
No one is making excuses for the Pirates, because they could have all but wrapped this division up if they could have won the series against the Cardinals this past weekend, but it is concerning that their schedule is so much more difficult than the two teams that they are competing against. It’s going to be a fun — and frustrating — few weeks for Pirates’ fans. Buckle up because it’s going to be an emotional roller-coaster.