MLB

NL Central Month of April Critical For The Pittsburgh Pirates

PNC Park

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates took two of three games against the Chicago Cubs in their opening series at PNC Park this past week. That’s not a bad start to divisional play and the 2014 MLB season, but if you take a look at their month of April, the fun is just beginning.

The Pirates are about to embark on a month of April that few teams have experienced in the last decade. That journey is a month filled with nearly nothing but NL Central opponents. That’s right — every game they play in the month of April except two games against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore at the end of the month are against NL Central foes.

Since the Cubs left town on Thursday, in come the rival St. Louis Cardinals. That visit will be followed by a nine-game road trip that has the Buccos visiting the Cubs, then the Milwaukee Brewers and finishing up at the Cincinnati Reds.

That road trip is followed up by back-to-back four-game sets against the Brewers and Reds at PNC Park before the Pirates travel to St. Louis to finish out the month of April.

Some say that a championship can’t be won in the month of April, and it’s hard to argue against that theory. But the flip side of that coin is that you can certainly lose a championship in April.

Looking at the month ahead for the “Battlin’ Bucs” they will certainly have their hands full. Not only will the month be a great test for their pitching staff as well as their overall team, but someone will come out of this month with a dominating lead in the NL Central. Can that team be the Pirates? History proves that it could.

The Pirates have been a very solid division team the past two seasons and nearly took the NL Central crown last year while holding onto the Wild Card spot in the NL. But the question remains: Can they withstand this barrage in the month of April and come out standing?

Time will tell, but if the Pirates’ pitching holds up, I like their chances against anyone. Let the NL Central month of April roll on.

Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+