Overall, this 2018 season for the Milwaukee Brewers has been a success as they find themselves on the brink of clinching a playoff berth. However, there is one team that the Brewers have had issues with all season, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Brewers will finish off the season series between the two teams this weekend in Pittsburgh. Hopefully, they will improve on their current 5-11 record against the Pirates, by far their worst record out of all their NL Central opponents.
By no means are the Pirates a poor ball club. They currently sit at 77-74 on the season and at one point had high playoff hopes. In the month of July they were able to pull within reach of a wildcard spot and traded for pitcher Chris Archer at the trade deadline. But they were unable to maintain their momentum. Even though the Pirates aren’t a team you can write off, given Milwaukee’s success this season, I wouldn’t have anticipated Pittsburgh giving them such fits.
Reasons for Pittsburgh’s success
The Pirates success this season can be attributed to their starting rotation, and I don’t just mean against the Brewers, but in the entire NL. The Pirates rotation is currently top five in opponents OBP at .309 on the year and a big reason is because they’ve given up the second fewest walks in the NL. Even when base runners do get on, the opponent has to put the ball in play to move them around as the Pirates starting rotation has only allowed 30 stolen bases on the year.
Just like with other NL teams, Pittsburgh’s starting rotation has made it difficult for Milwaukee to get runners on base. With their ability to limit walks and their average of over 10 strikeouts per game against the Brewers, it has been difficult for Milwaukee to manufacture runs in these series’.
The home run ball has also been sparse for the Milwaukee Brewers, as they’ve only been able to hit five on the season at PNC Park. All of these factors culminate into low scoring games for the Brewers, who are only averaging about three runs per game against the Pirates this season.
Pirates take advantage of struggling Brewers
A portion of Milwaukee’s struggles against the Pirates are due to playing a five game series against them during the Brewers worst stretch of the season.
The Brewers wrapped up the first half of the season in Pittsburgh having played 21 games in 20 days and the Pirates took advantage of a tired Brewers team by winning all five games. But that isn’t the only Pirates series that the Brewers have had issues. As recently as last weekend, Milwaukee struggled to score runs and lost another series to Pittsburgh.
This upcoming series against the Pirates is not one to take lightly, in fact I would call it a must win. Another series loss to Pittsburgh could wipe away the Brewers three game lead over the Cardinals for the final wildcard spot. And having to face St. Louis in the following series could kill the momentum that the Milwaukee Brewers have built up over the past month.
Pirate teams under manager Clint Hurdle always fight until the last out is made and I wouldn’t expect anything different in this matchup.