1) The Pirates worst performance this year came in April and into May. During that time they faced a lot of good teams and a lot of good pitchers. Even so, they stayed right within striking distance of .500. Last year, on the other hand, they stayed right around .500 while facing a weaker schedule.
2) Now going into the final 2 and a half months they have dozens of games against the 4 worst teams in the National League. They play an inordinate number of games against the Astros and Cubs from the Central, and Colorado and San Diego out west. Also the reverse of last year.
Let's take a look at the schedule starting with their first homestand after the all-star break. How does it shape up for the Bucs?
|Can J-Mac's dominance continue?|
July 20th - Aug 2nd (13 games)
Between now and August 2nd they play 13 games: 6 at home against the Marlins and Cubs and 7 on the road against the Astros and Cubs. The Astros and Cubs are terrible and Miami is under .500. That's 13 straight games against losing teams. This will be a telling stretch. Can the Pirates raise themselves a few more games over .500? They're not playing great right now, so I'll say...
Aug 3rd - 22nd (20 games)
|Reds' Johnny Cueto!|
The West has two teams hovering around .500 and two teams that are total clunkers. This will be another telling stretch, with 11 home games, none against a great team. Here's the Pirates' advantage. Just like they need to win a bunch against the lousy Cubs and Astros in July, they need to come away with a bunch of victories during this long stretch at home in August.
So how does this leg add up? Let's say they only win 1 in Cinci and split the road trip 3-3, that's 4 wins. What about the 11-game homestand? Hmm. You'd like to see 7 or 8 out of those 11, but I'll make the conservative prediction of 6. So that's 10 total from this part.
Aug 24th - Sept 23rd (27 games)
|Meaningful baseball in September?!?|
Remember, they don't need to be in first place, just in contention. Just relevant. Within striking distance of the division lead, or right there for a Wild Card spot. That ballpark will be insane. So, what's it going to be?
Let's say they play up and down a little and hover right around that .500 point. I'll give them 14 wins out of the 27 games. That will leave them just 1 win short of guaranteeing a winning record, with 10 games remaining. It would probably put them close to, but not in, a playoff spot.
Sept 24th - Oct 3rd (10 games)
This would give them 86 or 87 wins for the season. It would end the losing. It might even get you into the playoffs. It would have me buying another season ticket package in 2013, that's for sure.