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.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Even if the Reds have more opponents under .500, that doesn’t make their schedule easier. The Reds play more teams closer to .500 than the Pirates. They have more against Arizona (7 to 4) and Philly (7-0). The Pirates have more against San Diego (6-4), Chicago (11-13), and Houston (9-10). The opponent combined win percent is a much better indicator. Just looking at teams under/over .500 would imply 3 vs. Miami is as hard as 3 vs. Houston, or 3 vs. the Mets is as easy as 3 vs. the Yankees. So looking at the combine win%, the Pirates do have the easier schedule (according to ESPN) .462 to .467, followed by the Cardinals at .481.

    ESPN Avg Win % of Opponents: http://espn.go.com/mlb/huntforoctober
    See #games against opponents here: http://bit.ly/LCp7VW (it also has strength of schedule, but it appears to be normalized somehow)
    Or just compare them yourself: http://mlb.multimatchupsports.com/Schedules.aspx?v=c&season=2012&type=regularseason&location=1&align=3&pit=1&cin=1&power=1#120710

  2. 38 of their final 77 games at home? That’s just under half. I don’t see how that qualifies as an advantage to their schedule. Still, I like everything else about it. Reds and division race aside, with a schedule like the Pirates’ it’s hard to see them finishing under .500 anymore, which we should not disregard as enormous just because there are even bigger things on the horizon. In terms of the division race though, it looks like the games that the Bucs and Reds play against each other could very well be the deciding factor, which could be exciting/terrifying to watch. Let’s also not forget that having the second easiest schedule puts the Pirates at a huge advantage over other teams for the Wild Card, as well as over the not-to-be-forgotten Cardinals in terms of the division. This has been the best half season of baseball I have ever had a chance to watch in my life. Let’s hope the second half blows it out of the water.

  3. That’s looking way too far ahead. One series at a time is plenty. I just don’t know how to react to the continued dominance of the Pirates. Can’t wrap my head around it, but just have to enjoy it. The sum is greater than the individual parts, and that’s what a good manager can do.

  4. Hurdle said on his radio show the second half rotation will be JMac Friday in Milwaukee followed by Correia, Burnett, Karstans and Bedard. He mentioned breaking up pitchers who don’t go deep in games to give the bullpen a break. He didn’t say the names but we know who he’s talking about.

  5. Would’t it be sweet to play a series at the end of Sept that has playoff implications for US?

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