The Pirates crossed over the 81 game mark this past week and head into the 2nd half with the hopes of continuing to raise themselves from the hole they dug for themselves and take a lead into the race for the Wild Card spot. Of course the team will not concede having the ability to catch the Brewers and take the Division but it seems unlikely unless the Pirates were to go on a major win streak while the Brewers lost a whole bunch of games. The one thing Milwaukee certainly has is quality starting pitching and it’s been carrying them even if the offense has been up and down recently.
The St. Louis Cardinals also factor in because they are closer to Milwaukee and seemingly getting better as the season goes along. When I say better, the Cardinals have been over .500 most of the season but for the Cardinals, it’s not been the most successful season to this point. The hitting has gotten much better for them and their pitching has been solid as well. They don’t have as good of a team as they did last year but they have the full capability to add on to the team as the trade deadline approaches to fix whatever areas seem to be weakest.
The Cincinnati Reds are still hovering around as a contending team but something just feels off with them as they will win a game huge but then lose a few games by large margins. If anyone thought the Pirates were having a rollercoaster season, take a look at the Reds. As for the Cubs, I think they are a much better team than their record indicates but that will quickly change once Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are traded off.
2nd Half Predictions
At the beginning of June, I predicted the Pirates would finish June with a 43-39 record, however I fell one game short of that as they sit 42-40 record and taking a look into July, it’s going to be a much harder month and clearly defining whether or not the team buys or sells at the deadline. The Pirates start off the month with an easier schedule as Arizona and Philadelphia come to town. If the Pirates can take 2 of 3 from each of those teams and maybe even finally sweeping a team, that would be a nice 5-1 record to start the month. Then, the team travels to St. Louis for 4 games and Cincinnati for 3 games. It would be nice to at least split with the Cardinals and grab 1 of 3 from Cincinnati as I’m predicting which leads right to the All Star break. With my prediction here, the Pirates should be 50-45 at the break.
After the break, the Pirates open a 6 game homestand against the Rockies and Dodgers. This will be a very important set for the team because if they go say 1-5, that puts them only 1 game over .500 before heading to Colorado, San Francisco and Arizona to close out the month. I’ll say the Pirates can win 2 against the Rockies but 1 against the Dodgers, 1 at the Rockies and 1 against the Giants. There is 1 game and I’ll say a winner at Arizona to close out July. That gives the Pirates a record of 56-52 at the end of July. This still makes the Pirates a buyer with the hopes of being able to capture the wild card.
Looking even further ahead, if the Pirates can add to their strong foundation and continue to play solid baseball, there are some series in August that can keep the team well above .500 and September could give the team some boosts towards securing at least a Wild Card spot. It’s going to be tough but if the team does add the right piece or two, continues to get solid work from the starting rotation(lately), the bullpen solidifies itself and the offense stays healthy and productive, I can see the team finishing around 87-88 wins and claiming a Wild Card spot which point, anything can happen.