The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t been known to make too many splashes via trades. The front office has been starting to take a noticeable turn, though, and the Pirates made their first big (if you can call it that) acquisition in a long time. Trading for the Houston Astros’ Wandy Rodriguez, the surprising Pirates have solidified a starting rotation topped by Aces James McDonald (10-4, 2.93 era) and AJ Burnett (11-3, 3.59). Pittsburgh boasts two high-end aces, a solid arm in Rodriguez, and an all star reliever in Joel Hanrahan (28 svs, 2.11 era).
This signing comes at an opportune time, as the Pirates are only 2.5 games out of the lead in the NL Central. Cincinnati, the team leading in the NL Central, is ailing a bit with their franchise player, Joey Votto, out for at least another 2-3 weeks. To add on to possible offensive worries, The Reds have question marks in their rotation (outside of ace Johnny Cueto and Matt Latos). It should also be noted that the Reds don’t have a difficult schedule in the next month, facing off with sub .500 teams like the Padres, Phillies, and Cubs. Pittsburgh will have their fate in their hands, though briefly, when they square off with the streaking Reds on August 3rd, the first of a 3-game series. The Pirates are looking at a tougher schedule for the rest of the month, facing the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Cardinals.
As the Pirates acquire Wandy Rodriguez, bolster their rotation, and ride the wave that is Andrew McCutchen, the NL Central starts to look more and more interesting. As with most other divisions, the addition of the extra wild card slot this year only adds on to the intrigue. As long as the Pirates continue to pursue offensive upgrades, they should be looking at a very successful season.