Mapping The Course to 82
Three years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates won 57 games the entire season. It seemed like the low water mark for a proud francise that had fallen victim to bad decisions and the economics of the Major Leagues. The team had no where to go but up, and that is what they did! With young, talented players like Andrew McCutcheon, Jose Tabata, and Jason Grili and veterans like Russell Wilson and A.J Burnett, the Pirates set sail for the second half with 56 wins already. The 20 year drought seems like it is about to end. If it doesn't end this season or next, I fear the window may close as players "follow the money" to teams in larger markets like New York or Los Angeles.
I've been here before in 2011 and last season, watching the Bucs fall short each time, so my enthuiasm is a bit muted. Perhaps that's why I've set a few "beacons" or "buoys" for the second half.
For one, to get to 82 wins by then end of the season, the Pirates merely need 26 games, which comes out to a .370 winning percentage. But I'd like to see them come the last two weeks of the season thinking playoffs and not just .500.
So I think a great first target is to have 60 wins by the end of July. They have 14 games left to play in July, with series against; possible playoff opponents Cincinatti and St. Louis, the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins, winning 4 of these games seems likley.
By the end of August, I think 70 wins is a reasonable goal. There are 20 games for that month, but the schedule is a bit harder. St Louis makes more appearances, and Arizona and San Diego will pose challenges. The Pirates would need to play at least .500 to go into September with 12 games to go to reach the magic number of 82.
I'd like to see them reach 82 by the 21st of September; that way the talk could be on the playoffs for the remaing days of the season. They'd need to play a shade above .500 to get there, and with St. Louis and Texas the only real obstacles on the schedule for that time frame, it's probably a reachable goal.
Picking up a decent "small ball" hitter would help all of this. The Pirates have some big bats, but a lack of consistent hitter means that their pitching staff has borne a lot of weight. Give the pitchers some margin of error, and the Steelers may not be the only game in Pittsburgh come October!
(July 24, 2013)The first benchmark has been met! A 4-2 victory over the Washington Nationals gives the Pirates 60 wins--and with a week to spare!
(August 8, 2013)A 5-4, extra-innings, win over the Miami Marlins gives the Pirates their 70th win.
(Sept 1, 2013) A 7-1 Victory puts the Pirates at 79 wins as of the end of August. With some recent acquisitions, the Pirates seems to be setting up for a playoff run.
(Sept 9, 2013) A 1-0 Victory over the Texas Rangers gives the Pirates their 82nd win and their first winning season since 1992.