The Pirates are currently 8-13 in the month of August, losers of three straight, and 11 of their last 16 games. They've fallen out of the wild card for the first time since June, one game back from the St. Louis Cardinals.
Here we go again? Not yet.
Despite a multitude of issues -Andrew McCutchen in a slump, the starting pitching struggling, the bullpen melting down- the season is far from over. While these are certainly causes for concern, there may be hope on the horizon.
Consider this: the San Diego Padres are 22-4 in their last 26 games against the Pirates and the Dodgers have had similar success against Pittsburgh since 2009. Stuck in the middle of those dreadful games were the St. Louis Cardinals, from whom the Pirates took two out of three on the road last weekend.
There's the hope. Despite winning just one of seven games against a team from southern California, the Pirates were still able to win a critical series on the road. Is it possible that their losses stem from playing against two teams that have owned them over the last three seasons?
If that's the case, there should be optimism that the Pirates can right the ship before the season ends in October. The remainder of their season is against beatable teams. The Brewers have been up and down (mostly down) all year. The Cubs are 4-17 in August, the Mets are 11-27 since the All-Star break, and the Astros are 7-43 in their last 50 games.
The Pirates will play 26 of their final 38 games against those teams.
Conversely, the St. Louis Cardinals will face the Washington Nationals seven times and the Dodgers in a three game set. The Cardinals and Pirates will both face the Cincinnati Reds; the Pirates for six games, the Cardinals for three.
To turn things around, Andrew McCutchen and AJ Burnett need to turn things around. Just like it was unrealistic to believe McCutchen could keep up his July pace of .446 with seven home runs, it is unrealistic to believe McCutchen will continue to hit .253 in August, September and October.
Pirates fans should be worried over the performance of their team in August; it hasn't been good. But this team is not last year's team. Their pitching staff is deeper, they've gotten over playing at Miller Park and they've survived a 19 inning marathon. They are better than last year's team and they have time to turn things around and clinch a playoff spot.