Looking at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ schedule, there are five series’ that will peak fan interest for the 2017 season.
Today we will highlight the best series’ of the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates season.
These series’ contain interleague matchups, divisional matchups, and matchups that could potentially hinder the Pirates’ playoff chances.
Opening Series: Pittsburgh Pirates @ Boston Red Sox
In less than one week, the Pittsburgh Pirates will open their 2017 campaign in Boston against the Red Sox. It is always fun to see the Pirates play in older venues such as Fenway Park. Gerrit Cole will take the mound opening day opposing the defending AL Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello. Jameson Taillon and most-likely Chad Kuhl will round out the series against lefty ace Chris Sale and someone else who is TBD.
In the grand scheme of things, this series may not mean much in terms of the standings. It is the first series of the year against a team that is not even in the National League. To say this won’t be an exciting series though is a little cynical. Baseball is back. The Pirates will get to open against an exciting opponent. What’s not to like?
April 21-23: Yankees @ Pirates
Continuing the AL East theme, the Pirates will play the New York Yankees in their second home weekend series. This series is filled with promotional value with Zambelli fireworks on Friday night, a free shirt Saturday night, and a kids’ water bottle Sunday afternoon. Kind of like with the Red Sox, it is always fun to play a team like the Yankees because of their history. The Pirates only get to play the Yankees every few years so it is a treat when they come to town.
Looking at the schedule, this could be an early pivotal series for the Pirates. Before this weekend, the Pirates will have finished a six-game road trip against the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. They also get the Cubs again after this series. The Yankees are no slouch either. April will be a tough month for the Pirates and they will need to stay above water before the schedule lightens up in May.
July 7-9: Pirates @ Cubs
This weekend series will be the last series before the All-Star break. Over the past few years, the Pirates have had some magical moments around this time. In 2015, the Pirates won in walk-off fashion back-to-back nights against the Cardinals right before the break. Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco supplied the big hits then. Last year, the Pirates took two of three against the unbeatable Cubs highlighted by Josh Bell hitting a crazy pinch hit grand slam.
It will be interesting to see if that trend continues in 2017. This series will be crucial either way. Last year, the Pirates were 7.5 games out of first place by the break. If they want to have a chance at the division this year, they’ll need to be closer. This series will be in Chicago and will be the fourth time these teams face off. The Pirates went 4-14 against the Cubs last year. They’ll need to improve upon that dramatically in 2017 to have any chance at the division.
August 17-20: Cardinals @ Pirates
Four game series’ are always important. This four game series’ against a division rival right before the stretch run will be monumental. Okay maybe not monumental but this series could potentially be a big one for the Pirates. This late into the season, the Cubs may very well have the division wrapped up. The Pirates and Cardinals in all likelihood will be fighting for a Wild Card spot (sigh). This will be the second to last time the Pirates get the Cardinals in Pittsburgh. This series will count.
It will also be a fun series promotionally with friday night Zambelli fireworks, Saturday night Gregory Polanco coffee bobblehead, and Sunday’s game played in Williamsport, PA. All in all, with both the importance of the games and the excitement surrounding the games, this series will be a must watch when the time comes.
September 28-October 1: Pirates @ Nationals
The Pirates will end the 2017 regular season with a four game series in Washington against the Nationals. With both of these teams hopeful to make the playoffs, this series could in fact be monumental. If it ends up being an important series for both teams, the possible pitching matchups could be tough for the Pirates. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are both bonified aces. If the Pirates find themselves in a situation where they need to win three of four, that could be a problem.
All hypotheticals aside, the Nationals are just a solid team. Their pitching staff is great and their lineup is also great. If Bryce Harper bounces back this year the way I expect him to, watch out. The race in the NL East between the New York Mets and Nationals will be an interesting storyline in 2017. If it turns out that this series is important to both the Pirates and Nationals, it will be a classic.