If victorious Tuesday, Bucs would face Cardinals

If victorious Tuesday, Bucs would face Cardinals

If victorious Tuesday, Bucs would face Cardinals

CINCINNATI -- The Pirates, of course, hope it becomes an issue. For it to have mattered, they will have to get past the Reds in Tuesday's Wild Card Game.

But, in a hypothetical sense, the identity of their potential Division Series foe was intriguing because of their competitive contrast between Atlanta and St. Louis -- which did claim the National League's top seed and thus the right to meet the winner of the Wild Card Game.

The Cardinals, whom the Bucs played 19 times, as recently as Sept. 8?

Or, the Braves, whom the Bucs have not seen since June 5? That was so long ago, Gerrit Cole was still in Triple-A Indianapolis.

An opponent with whom you are extremely familiar -- as they are with you -- or a lesser-known foe?

"We've had people watching the Braves for three weeks," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said, citing routine scouting campaigns. "[We would've been] very comfortable with the information [we had]. Same with the Los Angeles Dodgers [for a possible NLCS run-in].

"St. Louis, obviously we're very familiar with. 'Comfort' is not the right word. But we do have a sound knowledge, as we do with the Reds. We've seen all their players and their pitchers, got their defensive and offensive tendencies ... and they've got ours."

Something to contemplate: The Cardinals and now both potential NLCS opponents -- the Braves and the Dodgers -- have each swept the Pirates in three-game series in their ballparks.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.