The Pittsburgh Pirates have commandeered the top record in baseball with their recent hot streak and appear to be in it for the long run.
They have won 10 of their last 11 games behind solid pitching and consistent offense. Every facet of the game seems to be working for them right now, but will they be able to keep this high level of play going?
The Pirates’ depth at starting pitching has been key to their success lately. A.J. Burnett, James McDonald and Wandy Rodriguez are all on the disabled list currently, but that hasn’t translated into a drop-off from their starters whatsoever.
Jeanmar Gomez and Gerrit Cole have given the Pirates an unexpected jolt with the starters out. Cole has won his first four starts since filling in for Rodriguez in mid-June, and Gomez has posted a 2.70 ERA over eight starts. Their pitching should improve when Burnett, McDonald and Rodriguez return, meaning there is a good chance this Pirates team will be making noise in the fall.
Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen have been run-scoring machines for the Bucs this season. They’ve combined for 40 stolen bases and 104 of the Pirates’ 327 runs. An injury to one of their star outfielders could be one of the only things to slow this team down. They’ve proven they have depth in other places, but this may be the one thing that could derail the Pirates’ offense.
The Pirates haven’t won their division since 1992 when they did it three times in a row. They’re currently just two games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, who are going in the opposite direction. As long as the Pirates’ position players are able to stay healthy, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to hang around the top of the National League Central for the long haul.