The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the midst of their best stretch of baseball in quite some time this season, owning a .533 winning percentage in September.
It hasn’t been the most thrilling season for the Pirates and manager Derek Shelton, but the club has shown strides since deploying and trusting its young core to play every day.
The Bucs begin their final road trip of 2023 with a three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. Since the trade deadline, the Pirates have played significantly better baseball.
A tale of two seasons defines the current Pirates, plating a 42-30 record in 72 games spanning March/April, August, and September, compared to a 27-49 (.355) mark from May, June and July.
Regardless of the month, time period, or who was sent onto the field, the Pirates have suffocated themselves against the Cubs. The Bucs are 1-9 against their NL Central division rivals. Yes, you read that right. Their lone win came on Friday, August 25, in a 2-1 victory thanks to eight strong innings of one-run ball from Mitch Keller. The Cubs took three out of four in the series.
The Pirates have not officially announced a starter for Tuesday or Thursday’s game. Keller will go Wednesday opposite former Bucco No. 2 overall pick Jameson Taillon.
Rookie reliever Carmen Mlodzinski has been a great story as the 7th-inning man and emerged in the second half. The former first-rounder from South Carolina owns a 2.03 ERA this year and has only allowed one run in 7.1 September frames. Lefty Ryan Borucki’s been a pleasant surprise and holds a 2.80 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in 35.1 innings. David Bednar continues to be one of the best closers in baseball, racking up his 36th save over the weekend.
With a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees Sunday at PNC Park, the Pirates reached the 70-win mark, a plateau the club hasn’t seen since 2018 (82-79). So far, the club’s improved their win total from last season by eight games with 12 remaining. Being able to overcome the Cubs will be a significant step in improving that total even further to close the season.