After being made the San Diego Padres latest victim and losing the opening game of a huge series to the Cincinnati Reds, the Pittsburgh Pirates needed a great start from someone and they needed it bad. The veteran of the staff A.J. Burnett came through with just what they needed with a huge clutch performance that lifted the Bucs over their close rivals in the second game of the series. This just goes to prove exactly how important a good veteran starting pitcher can be at times like the Pirates are in now as well as the MLB playoffs.
Burnett has probably had times in his career where his arm felt better and where he was possibly at the tip top of his game but I seriously doubt the veteran ace has been any more satisfied in his career than he is right now. The Pirates closed to within 1.5 of the St. Louis Cardinals and most importantly put one game distance between they and the Reds. Considering they could win or lose just as easily breathing in the next contest with the Reds, it is huge to get a win.
Burnett sets himself up as one of the more reliable pitchers they have right now. He along with Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano will probably make up the top spots of the Pirates postseason rotation with the fourth spot being a little up in the air. None of that matters until they take care of business however. Both of these teams want the division title because it guarantees at least a three out of five series instead of the deadly one-game wildcard playoff. The Pirates need the rest of their staff to follow their veteran leadership if they hope to overtake the Cardinals.