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Analyzing the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2014 Schedule: April

January 13th, 2014 at 5:07 PM
By Allan Smith

The Pittsburgh Pirates will begin 2014 the same way the club began the 2013 season by kicking off the schedule with a three-game series at PNC Park against the division rival Chicago Cubs. Yet, while fans are hoping the regular season has a similar ending as the year prior, followers will be quick to doubt the team if they open the season in a similar manner as the celebrated 2013 squad.

'Pittsburgh Pirates | Opening Day 2013' photo (c) 2013, RJ Schmidt - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

The Bucs will conclude the six-game home-stand against the team that eliminated them from playoff competition, captured the NL Central title and won the pennant, the St. Louis Cardinals. While the Cubs look to be about as bad as they were the year prior, it can be easily argued that St. Louis improved on the prior year's Cardinals club. The Pirates will get to toss Liriano twice in week one, barring injury, against the Cubs on opening day and on Sunday afternoon against St. Louis. The lefty had spectacular numbers at PNC Park, so what better way for him to start his season than by pitching his first two games at home.

However, Liriano will have to lineup against aces such as Jeff Samardijza, who has been lights-out against the Pirates in the past and stifled them on Opening Day 2013, as well as Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, who almost single-handedly knocked the Pirates out of the postseason with his Game 5 performance in the NLDS. These games are certain to be lower-scoring affairs where either team could emerge victorious.

Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton should pitch the second and third game of the season against the Cubs, respectively, and the Bucs will have the advantage both days these pitchers are on the mound. However, the Cardinals series will begin with Wandy Rodriguez making his first start coming back from an arthritic arm as well as Edinson Volquez's Pirates debut. Volquez happened to have led the NL in earned runs allowed during the 2013 campaign. Certainly not the way you want to start a series against the defending NL champions when you will have to face Wainwright when Liriano takes the mound for the final game.

The team will then embark on a nine-game road swing to Chicago, Milwaukee and Cincinnati. The Cubs and Pirates will play six of their first nine against one another, and should be very familiar with each other by the second week of the season if they aren't famlliar enough already. Playing in Milwaukee has always been a depressing event on the Pirates' calendar, and the Brewers will be improved from last season with Ryan Braun returning from his Biogenesis suspension as well as Aramis Ramirez returning to full health. Finally, the first series against the Reds will be filled with emotion as Cincinnati will be looking to avenge last seasons playoff loss, and four game sweep, at the hands of the Pirates.

After the nine-game NL Central swing, the Pirates will return home for eight against the Brewers and Cardinals. In fact, the Pirates will begin the season by playing their first 26 games against divisional opponents. Needless to say, the Pirates should be entering this stretch somewhere hovering around .500 looking to give ample separation from the now infamous winning percentage associated with the team, especially since they will travel to St. Louis and Baltimore for the final five games of the month.

Assuming the pitching rotation is Liriano, Cole, Morton, Rodriguez and Volquez, the pitching assignments for each are listed below.

Liriano

vs. Cubs 3/31

vs. Cardinals 4/6

@ Brewers 4/12

vs. Brewers 4/17

vs. Reds 4/22

@ Cardinals 4/27

Cole

vs. Cubs 4/2

@ Cubs 4/8

@ Brewers 4/13

vs. Brewers 4/18

vs. Reds 4/23

@ Orioles 4/29

Morton

vs. Cubs 4/3

@ Cubs 4/9

@ Reds 4/14

vs. Brewers 4/19

vs. Reds 4/24

@ Orioles 4/30

Rodriguez

vs. Cardinals 4/4

@ Cubs 4/10

@ Reds 4/15

vs. Brewers 4/20

@ Cardinals 4/25

Volquez

vs. Cardinals 4/5

@ Brewers 4/11

@ Reds 4/16

vs. Reds 4/21

@ Cardinals 4/26

The Bucs will win nine of the 12 starts provided by Liriano and Cole and six of the 11 started by Morton and Rodriguez. However, the difficult slate of games will prove too much for Volquez as the team will go 1-4 in the games he starts. As a result of all this, the Pirates will finish April with a 16-12 record.

Games started by:

Liriano: 5-1

Cole: 4-2

Morton: 3-3

Rodriguez: 3-2

Volquez: 1-4

Overall: 16-12

Tags: April, Baseball, MLB, pitching, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pirates, schedule

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