June is going to be extremely important for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They have gotten off to a pretty good start in June, going 4-3, thanks to better offense and improved pitching. Fortunately for the Bucs, the most important month of their season is made up of a relatively easy schedule.
At 29-33 and in fourth place in the National League Central, the Pirates’ season is clearly already at the point where every game means a ton. June won’t only decide whether the Pirates are contenders or pretenders, but it will also decide their approach to the 2014 MLB trade deadline. With a successful June, the Pirates will likely be buyers; with a poor month, they will probably make a few moves to sell some of their impending free agents in hopes of getting something in return for them.
With the Bucs already off to a nice start in the crucial month of June, they have to continue their strong play for the next three weeks. Starting Monday against the Chicago Cubs, the Pirates have to play the best baseball of their season to this point, and it has to continue until the end of the year.
After the four-game set against the 25-35 Cubs at home, they travel to South Beach to take on the 33-30 Miami Marlins — arguably their toughest series of the month. Following the off-day after the Marlins series, the Bucs head back home for a three-game series against the 29-32 Cincinnati Reds. Then they head to Wrigley Field for three more games against the Cubs. They finish up the month of June with three games on the road against the 24-40 Tampa Bay Rays and four games at home with the 28-34 New York Mets.
The only series that will be acceptable to lose this month will be the series against the Marlins on the road. They are a good team and the Pirates struggle on the road. The series against the Cubs, Mets, Reds and Rays at this point are simply must-win series.
Beating lesser teams is what good teams do and it is something the Pirates must start doing more consistently. If they don’t, it’s going to be a long summer for the Bucs.