Our daily Wake-Up Call gets you ready for the day with a look at all things Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pittsburgh Pirates experienced an important off day yesterday.

After losing six of their last eight games, the Bucs return home to PNC Park tonight as they begin a three-game series with the team that holds the best record in the National League, the Washington Nationals.

The Nats, who sit 7.5 games ahead of the second-place New York Mets in the NL East, have the most potent offense in baseball. The Nats lead the league with a .282 team batting average, a statistic that seems remarkably high compared to the Pirates .229 team average.

Ryan Zimmerman has been a pleasant surprise with his .385 average and team-leading 13 home runs and 36 RBIs while Bryce Harper continues to rake by hitting at a .384 clip with 12 homers and 34 RBIs.

The duo is one and two in the league in batting average and RBIs.

The Nats also have a stacked pitching rotation with the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez.

The Bucs are bound to face Strasburg and Roark in the series while the game two starter for the Nats is still to be determined.

There is no question the Nationals serve as a huge obstacle in the Pirates path to regaining their stride and building on their short two game winning streak.

While they’ve hit the ball better the last few games, it’s obvious that the Pirates bats need to come alive if they want to have success in this series.

Another stellar outing from Gerrit Cole and improved starts from Chad Kuhl and Tyler Glasnow would help as well.

If the Bucs could take at least one or two of the next three against Washington, it would set them up to possibly improve their record in upcoming series against struggling NL East teams such as the Phillies, Braves and Mets.

The Pirates struggles have been evident this season, but now it’s time for players to step up, play smarter baseball and get themselves out of the NL Central cellar.

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Jose Negron

Jose Negron is a 22 year old journalist from the North Huntingdon area. A recent graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, Jose has written for Rumbunter and Pirates Breakdown for the past year. He is the former Editor in Chief and Sports Editor of Cal U's campus newspaper, the Cal Times. He also covers high school sports for the Mon Valley Independent and serves as a contributor for Pittsburgh Sporting News, covering the Pirates. During the summer of 2015, he also interned with TribLive Radio, writing for their online blog, helping in the production of various radio shows and even appearing on the air.