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Pirates Show No Signs of Letting Up

The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a good start to the season for the last three years. After the All-Star Break, they collapsed in the previous two. So a great first half to this season may have some feeling that it is a bit too soon to making plans for the playoffs.

But, this season the Pirates may be in it for the long haul. Let’s look at the previous two. In 2011, Pittsburgh was 47-43 at the break. That was a great start for a team with losing records every year since 1993. But in 2012, the start was even better at 48-37 with a one game lad in the N. L. Central. This year, the Pirates are 53-32 with eight games left until the break. They lead the St. Louis Cardinals by two games in the Central.

So while Pittsburgh has a pattern of playing well before the All-Star Break and not to well after the break, they are also showing a pattern of improving each season over all. In 2011, the Pirates finished 72-90. In 2012 they finished 79-83, a seven game improvement. So if the Pirates can improve another seven games this season, that puts them at 86-76 for the year. That would again mean the Pirates would be under .500 in the second half of the season as they are 21 games over .500 right now.

86 wins in the National League would be right in the race if teams keep playing at their current pace. Right now, the two N. L.Wild Card teams are both from he Central. So that means for the Pirates to miss the playoffs, the Washington Nationals or Los Angeles Dodgers or Colorado Rockies have to slip past one of the Central teams. Right now, the best record among teams not in the Central is the Nats at 44-42. So it is not out of reach to say that 86 wins gets at least into the Wild Card game.

But, these Pirates do not look like a team that will be tanking in the second half. Anything is possible, but this team looks like they are for real. They are pounding people, winning close games, getting good pitching, good hitting, they are for real. Do not be surprised if the Pirates win the division. Francisco Liriano with a record of 8-3 and A. J. Burnett with a 4-6 record but a good ERA of 3.12 and 99 strikeouts, gives the Bucs a good top end of the starting rotation.

The Cardinals are not going away either. At 51-34, they have the second best record in the National League. St. Louis has been getting excellent starting pitching all season long from Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn. Look for St. Louis to contend for the division title.

Then there are the Cincinnati Reds who are hanging right in the race. The Reds got a big momentum boost this week when Homer Bailey tossed a no-hitter at the San Francisco Giants.

We predict that both N. L. Wild Cards will be from the N. L. Central. That means the Pirates will be in the playoffs.



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