CHICAGO – The Pirates probably must sweep the Cardinals to have a shot at the division title, and it doesn’t help the Cardinals finish at the lowly Braves (though Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran are in line to pitch and wouldn’t Miller love to beat his former team?).
If the Pirates cannot catch the Cardinals, they will face the sum of their fears in meeting perhaps this year’s Madison Bumgarner, Jake Arrieta, in a one-game playoff.
Arrieta was perfect for six innings last night against the Pirates as he offered a perhaps a sneak preview of their execution in a one wild-card game on Oct. 7. Arrieta has cross-fired his way to a 0.80 ERA in the second half. Crazy. And he’s been even better against the Pirates this season, posting a 0.75 ERA and allowing just 18 hits in 35 innings. Oh boy.
So that’s the glass half-empty, or nearly empty outlook.
There is a silverish lining, however: Unlike a year ago when the Pirates sent their No. 3 starter to face Bumgarner in the wild-card game, the Pirates will be saving their ace, Gerrit Cole, for whomever they face in the first postseason game.
And what if the Pirates’ ace is about to take a leap? Continue reading Monday Mop-Up Duty: Are the Pirates in line to face the Bumgarner of 2015 or do they have their own?