Aug 3, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) celebrates with teammates after defeating the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Coming off the five game mega-series with the Cardinals, and a three game weekend set with the Rockies, the Pirates next series is against the lowly Marlins at home, followed by a three game set on the road with the Rockies. The Pirates remaining schedule for the month of August includes only two series against winning teams (the St. Louis Cardinals, and Arizona Diamondbacks).
While the Pirates have been hot of late, they have had a couple of letdowns this season when playing against lesser teams. As they enter into the hottest part of an intense pennant race (how often do we get to say that about the Pirates?), they hold a 1.5 game lead on the Cardinals for the N.L. Central, a 6.5 game lead on the Reds for the top N.L. wild card, and an eleven game lead on Arizona for the second wild card.
Their playoff odds are currently at 99.2% according to Baseball Prospectus. Let that settle in for a second. If this team played through their remaining schedule 100 times, ninety-nine of those times, they would make the postseason. While the division battle is likely to drag out down to the last days of the season, the Pirates have an opportunity to effectively put a playoff spot away before the beginning of September if they play as well against their poor upcoming schedule as they ought. That’s scary thing to think of, but exciting at the same time. Their September schedule is a bit less forgiving, so the Pirates need to take advantage now.
They’ve played themselves into an excellent position heading into the last fifty-one games of the season, and so far we still have no reason to believe they can’t continue their success. This is an incredibly special team, that has done great things for the city of Pittsburgh, making August and September baseball exciting, rather than the afterthought or punchline that it’s been over the last twenty years.