Pittsburgh Pirates: Predicting the Remainder of July

Allan Smith@@akarl_smithContributor IIIJuly 1, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28:  A.J. Burnett #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during a MLB baseball game on June 28, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Pirates defeated the Phillies 5-4. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

After a loss to the Cardinals on the first day of July, the Bucs sit at 42-36, six games over .500 and are in both the division and wild card races.

July brings the easiest schedule the Pirates have had so far, facing sub-.500 teams in all series—except for the one later this week vsersus the Giants. There will be 16 games played against the Astros, Cubs and Rockies—three of the four worst teams in the National League.

This brings on some needed relief from the tough schedule of the previous month. But, the Bucs didn't seem to bothered by it in going 17-10.

Look for the Bucs to improve this record during the next month.

Week 1: 4 vs. HOU, 3 vs. SF

The Pirates face the scuffling Astros as well as the surging Giants during the month's first week. Luckily for the Pirates, James McDonald and A.J. Burnett will both have two starts.

The offense, which lead the National League in runs for the month of June, should continue to rake at home vs. Houston. They will be lucky enough to avoid facing recent perfect game hurler Matt Cain, as well as dominating lefty Madison Bumgarner, when the Giants roll in.

Look for Burnett to continue his winning streak through this week, assuring the Pirates of wins Tuesday and Saturday. McDonald should be able to out-duel Astros starter Jordan Lyles Monday, as well as Giants starter Barry Zito on Friday.

Look for the Bucs to win one of the remaining three games in the week, putting them nine games over .500.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27: Starting pitcher James McDonald #53 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 27, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Get
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Record after Week 1: 47-38

Week 2: 3 at MIL

With the All-Star break taking up the first portion of the week, the Bucs will play just a three-game set in Milwaukee starting on none other then Friday, the 13th.

Though McDonald and Burnett will likely start the first two games after the break, look for the Pirates to drop two of three in their house of horrors. This will leave them at eight games over .500

Record after Week 2: 48-40

Week 3: 3 at COL; 3 vs. MIA

The Pirates will travel out to Denver after visiting Milwaukee. After Denver, the Bucs will come back home to start a six-game homestand, opening up with a three-game set against the Marlins.

With the Rockies' atrocious pitching stats, and the chance that both McDonald and Burnett aren't pitching the series, these games could all be slugfests. The Pirates batters should hit well off of the struggling staff and, as a result, should win two of three against the Rockies.

No matter what, the Rockies can never seem to score enough runs to offset how horrible their pitching is.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28: Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during a MLB baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 28, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Over the weekend, with the Bucs back at the top of their rotation, look for them to take two of three from the Fish as well—a team the Bucs have historically done very well against at PNC Park.

Record after Week 3: 52-42

Week 4, End of July: 3 vs. CHC, 4 at HOU, 2 at CHC

The Pirates get a gift from the baseball Gods for their final nine games of the month with the lowly Cubs and Astros.

After starting the month of with a 10-6 record, the Bucs will be able to surpass their previous months' mark with a strong showing against two teams likely to have sold away some of their better players by this point.

Look for the Bucs to go 7-2 with strong showings both at the plate and on the mound, placing them in perfect condition for a late-season pennant run.

Compare this with the awful stretch of games at the end of July last year vs. Atlanta and Philadelphia that sent the Pirates on their eventual tailspin. It ensued a 10-game losing streak, but the end of this month looks much more favorable.

Final July Record: 17-9

Overall Record: 59-44