After today’s win against the Phillies, the Pirates stand at 40-35. That leaves the Pirates with 87 games left to play. Of those 87 games, 36 of them (41% of their remaining schedule) are against the 4 worst teams in the National League — The Cubs (13), Astros (14), Padres (6), and Rockies (3).
To further delve into the numbers, those four teams combined have a record of 113-187 (.376 winning percentage). If those 4 opponents were to win just at their current rate in those 36 games, the Pirates’ record in those contests would be 22-14. That would give the Pirates a huge cushion to their overall record, both in terms of finishing with a winning record and for their playoff hopes.
If you sift the tea leaves some more, 20 of those 36 games will come after the July 31st trade deadline when those teams will all presumably have traded away some of their veterans and free-agents-to-be. This will strip away most of the top talent on these teams and give playing time to minor league callups, young players received in the trades, or minor league vets with not much upside.
I know what you’re thinking — because I thought it too before I started typing — don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Last year the Pirates lost 7 straight games to Chicago and San Diego right after the trade deadline, when both teams were very bad at the time, and effectively killed their zest for life and any chances of having a winning season in the process.
It is a loooonnnng way to the end of the season, but the Pirates’ schedule has them well-positioned to make some noise and keep them relevant for a longer time period than 2011.