Season's End: Atlanta Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates Series Preview

Justin K. Aller - Getty Images

The Braves look to finish the 2012 regular season with a flourish, while the Pirates simply look finished.

Another promising season has become a train wreck for the Pirates.

On July 31, the Pirates were 59-44 and were only three games out of first place in the NL Central and were tied with the Braves for the top Wild Card spot. Just maybe they could shake away their disappointing 2011 season. Nope.

Since then, they've won just 18 of their 56 games in falling out of playoff contention yet again and in doing so, ensured a 20th straight losing season. The torture for the Pirates comes to a merciful end in a season-ending series against the visiting Braves: a team that, regardless of the outcome of this series, will play at least one one-game playoff for a chance to play deep into October. The Braves finished September with an impressive 19-8 record and will try to finish their season on a high note.

Andrew McCutchen remains Pittsburgh's most potent offensive threat but has fallen off considerably since the end of July. McCutchen was hitting .371 on July 31, but his .256 batting average since then has dropped that down to .329. Regardless, he's hit seven home runs and driven in 16 in September, joining Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez among Pirates who have hit at least 26 home runs in 2012.

A.J. Burnett's rough August helped contribute to Pittsburgh's collapse (21 runs in 33 innings), but pitched well in September (2.50 ERA) with only one win to show for his effort; that one win is Pittsburgh's only win in Burnett's last eight starts. In Pittsburgh's five September losses for Burnett, the offense scored a total of five runs, getting shut out twice including Cincinnati's no-hitter September 28.

Finally, this will be the last regular season stop on the Chipper Jones farewell tour. Chipper has hit .298 in 123 career games against the Pirates with 17 home runs and 86 RBI. Eight of those 17 homers were hit in Pittsburgh.

PITCHING PROBABLES

Monday, October 1, 7:05 p.m. ET

Paul Maholm

#17 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-2

220

L

L

Jun 25, 1982

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2012 - Paul Maholm 4-4 3.65 1.20 51 16

Jeff Locke

#49 / Pitcher / Pittsburgh Pirates

6-1

215

L

L

Nov 20, 1987

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2012 - Jeff Locke 0-3 6.35 1.41 28 6

Tuesday, October 2, 7:05 p.m. ET

Tommy Hanson

#48 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-6

220

R

R

Aug 28, 1986

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2012 - Tommy Hanson 13-9 4.38 1.45 155 70

Kevin Correia

#29 / Pitcher / Pittsburgh Pirates

6-3

200

R

R

Aug 24, 1980

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2012 - Kevin Correia 11-11 4.33 1.31 84 45

Wednesday, October 3, 12:35 p.m. ET

Tim Hudson

#15 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-1

175

R

R

Jul 14, 1975

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2012 - Tim Hudson 16-7 3.62 1.21 102 48

A.J. Burnett

#34 / Pitcher / Pittsburgh Pirates

6-4

230

R

R

Jan 03, 1977

W-L ERA WHIP K BB
2012 - A.J. Burnett 16-9 3.43 1.23 177 60
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