Buster Olney, who at the start of the year said the Pittsburgh Pirates had the most difficult April schedule, released his second half rankings for the National League contenders. Many have noted the easy schedule the Pirates will face in the second half. Their first 19 games after the All-Star break are against teams who are currently under .500.
Olney ranked the Pirates with the second easiest schedule. He noted that they have 26 games remaining against teams over .500, and that 38 of their final 77 games are at home. The Pirates have the best home record in baseball (28-14), and one of the best records against teams under .500. So both trends will benefit them in the second half.
However, the team with the easiest second half schedule is the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds have 42 of their final 77 games at home, and only 24 games remaining against teams that are over .500. Their first ten games after the break will be against teams under .500, and only three of their first 19 games after the break will be against teams over .500.
The Pirates have an easy schedule in the second half, but that won’t help them in their race against the Reds. What will be interesting is that the Pirates and Reds play a three game series at the end of September, which could be a huge series for the playoffs if both teams capitalize on their easy schedules in the second half. The Pirates go on to finish their season with three games against Atlanta, while the Reds go on to finish with three games against St. Louis.