How the Playoffs Line Up For the Pittsburgh Pirates

Tomorrow the Pittsburgh Pirates will play their first playoff game since 1992, and their first playoff game ever at PNC Park. Some will stick with a “one game at a time” approach, and won’t appreciate looking ahead to the rest of the playoffs. However, the advantage I have is that my writing and looking ahead has zero impact on what the Pirates do on the field. Therefore, let’s take this opportunity to look at the 2013 playoff schedule, and see who the Pirates could potentially face, the dates for each game, and the probable starters.

I based the starters for the divisional series on the last homestand of the regular season, and based the NLCS and World Series on the divisional series. There’s definitely room for adjustments, and if the Pirates make those rounds, then I’m sure those conversations will get deeper. For now, this is an initial look, and the only people I was really focused on were Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett. Also, I have no clue who the Pirates could be facing as far as pitchers, even in the NLDS.

Wild Card Round

Opponent: Reds (Home)

Date: Tuesday, October 1st

Time: 8:07 PM

TV: TBS

Probable Starter: Francisco Liriano (vs Johnny Cueto)

Division Series

Potential Opponent: Cardinals

The times for this series are TBD. All games are scheduled to be on TBS, except for games one and four, which could be on MLB Network. All pitchers are probable, based on my best guess.

Game One: Thursday, October 3rd (@STL, A.J. Burnett)

Game Two: Friday, October 4th (@STL, Charlie Morton)

Game Three: Sunday, October 6th (vs STL, Francisco Liriano)

Game Four (If Necessary): Monday, October 7th (vs STL, Gerrit Cole)

Game Five (If Necessary): Wednesday, October 9th (@STL, A.J. Burnett)

NLCS

Potential Opponents: Braves or Dodgers

The times for this series are TBD. All games are scheduled to be on TBS. All pitchers are extremely probable, based on my best guess. Morton and Cole would be up in the air, depending on who the Pirates wanted getting two possible starts.

Game One: Friday, October 11th (Road, Francisco Liriano)

Game Two: Saturday, October 12th (Road, Charlie Morton/Gerrit Cole)

Game Three: Monday, October 14th (Home, A.J. Burnett)

Game Four: Tuesday, October 15th (Home, Gerrit Cole/Charlie Morton)

Game Five (If Necessary): Wednesday, October 16th (Home, Francisco Liriano)

Game Six (If Necessary): Friday, October 18th (Road, Charlie Morton/Gerrit Cole)

Game Seven (If Necessary): Saturday, October 19th (Road, A.J. Burnett)

World Series

Potential Opponents: Boston, Detroit, Oakland, Cleveland, Texas/Tampa Bay

The times for this series are TBD. All games are scheduled to be on FOX. All pitchers are extremely probable, based on my best guess. The Pirates could go any different way here, including pitching Francisco Liriano on four days rest to have him in games one, four, and seven. That would mean they would only need three starters, freeing up Charlie Morton or Gerrit Cole for long relief. But this is a few weeks away, and hardly anything to focus too much on at this point.

Game One: Wednesday, October 23rd (Road, Francisco Liriano)

Game Two: Thursday, October 24th (Road, A.J. Burnett)

Game Three: Saturday, October 26th (Home, Charlie Morton)

Game Four: Sunday, October 27th (Home, Gerrit Cole)

Game Five (If Necessary): Monday, October 28th (Home, Francisco Liriano)

Game Six (If Necessary): Wednesday, October 30th (Road, A.J. Burnett)

Game Seven (If Necessary): Thursday, October 31st (Road, Charlie Morton)

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • blackmax

    I wouldn’t want Morton to start game 7 of the world series, but if it comes to that I won’t be complaining.

  • smurph

    Certainly subject to change, based on how well and how long each pitcher pitches. Also could be altered based on series which don’t go the limit. I think I would have Cole on the roster for the WC game, just in case Liriano starts out horribly or gets an injury early in that game.

  • BamaBuc21

    Line up guess for tomorrow night:

    1. Marte
    2. Walker
    3. McCutchen
    4. Alvarez
    5. Morneau
    6. Byrd
    7. Martin
    8. Mercer
    9. Liriano

  • BostonsCommon

    Looking at the series with the Cards, I’m giving Cole the nod in game two. Kid is on a role right now, and the Cards haven’t seen his stuff yet. Also, Charlie’s been knocked around against the Cards this year, especially in his two starts at Busch. If you give Charlie game 4, at least it will be at PNC.

    I don’t care if the Cards are the hottest team in baseball right now, I think the Pirates match up well with them. Wacca and Kelly have pitched well against the Bucs this year. But the Pirates have mashed Lynn and Miller, and even put a few chinks in Wainwright’s armor.

    Now that I’m thinking about it, I would be really tempted to throw Cole against the Reds tomorrow. That lines up Liriano to potentially go twice against a Cards team that really struggles against lefties.

    • smurph

      Hurdle has already announced that AJ would start Game one of the Divisional playoff.

      • BostonsCommon

        Key phrase was, “I would be really tempted”…

    • smurph

      Also keep in mind that there is a huge difference in Liriano’s ERA at PNC Park vs. on the road, so it just makes sense for him to start tomorrow.

      • BostonsCommon

        Agree regarding the splits (although I wonder what his road line would look like if you take out the Colorado start)… Which is why I want him starting two games at PNC against the Cards, who can’t hit lefties.

    • SteveW

      Yes, the way Cole has been pitching, I would definitely start him in Game 2. Tim, what’s the rationale for slotting in Morton in Game 2 instead of a well-rested Cole?

      • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.smalley.35 Andrew Smalley

        Luckily, I think Tim is still the only one that sees Morton as our #ThirdBestOption. Cole will almost certainly start GM 2 of any potential NLDS. Not only is he he better pitcher with better numbers, he’ll also be rested and ready to go, assuming that he doesn’t have to pitch in the WC game.

        There would really be no reason to start Morton before Cole, unless Cole is forced to pitch int the WC game.

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

          Here is the second paragraph of the article:

          “I based the starters for the divisional series on the last homestand of the regular season, and based the NLCS and World Series on the divisional series. There’s definitely room for adjustments, and if the Pirates make those rounds, then I’m sure those conversations will get deeper. For now, this is an initial look, and the only people I was really focused on were Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett.”

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        From the second paragraph:

        “I based the starters for the divisional series on the last homestand of the regular season”

        I also left open the possibility that Cole could pitch in the Wild Card game, meaning he wouldn’t be well rested.

  • http://www.facebook.com/faye.zbuksukcz Faye Zbuksukcz

    Just think, had Mercer not airmailed that throw to first and Marte not dropped that fly ball, Bucs would likely be playing Cards at PNC today.

    If it should get to point where Bucs are playing at Fenway, there is not a snowball’s chance in hell I’d be pitching Liriano there. After Coors, Fenway is Frankie’s personal house of horrors. FWIW, in Frankie’s case I’d also look hard at who’s behind the plate, e.g. Tim McClelland would be bad, Mike Everitt good.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      You could play “what if” games with every team. There were games the Cardinals let get away as well.

    • smurph

      So that is actually a good thing that those things happened. Otherwise the Pirates would have to play the hottest team in the National League today, and then if they lost, turn around and play the Reds tomorrow.

  • CalipariFan506

    I’m hoping Mercer starts tomorrow. We’ve seen enough Barmes vs Cueto.

  • jamminjoe66

    I’ve seen enough of Barmas vs anyone

  • benh444

    tim-if we were to play the dodgers, would we have homefield in that series because we had a better record, or would the dodgers because they won their division

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Wild card is always on the road, no matter what.

    • CalipariFan506

      The NBA is the only of the four professional sports leagues that would give homefield to a lower seeded non division winner if they have a better record than a higher seeded division winner. So the Dodgers would have homefield.

  • WoodChuck

    Love seeing the speculation but lets win Tuesday first! Only game that matters right now

  • gomudhens

    I hope they save Morton for a home game and pitch Cole in St. Louis (assuming of course they beat the Reds tonight) – seems to me that between Burnett and Cole at St. Louis, great chance of getting a split, and then having Morton and Liriano pitching at PNC, it would be hard for the Cards to win either of those.

    • https://profiles.google.com/117072260031604417798 PikeBishop65

      I seem to recall Morton being utterly shelled by the Cards in July at home and a not too thrilling start in the final series at St. Louis.