The Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans went through a recent period of worry when the Pirates lost six out of eight games, but they have recovered well and won two in a row. The Pirates have two more games before the All-Star break against the New York Mets.
The next two games are very important for these Pirates. In order to prove to the fan base that this is a different team than in 2011 and 2012, they need to make a statement by sweeping the Mets at PNC Park after going through a rough week of losing. Every team goes through a tough week or two stretched throughout the long MLB season, but when the Pirates do it, it becomes a feeling of misery and angst. Quite frankly, after 20 years of losing and two straight epic second-half collapses, the Pirates’ fans have earned the right to be nervous after a bad week.
I don’t think this team is going to collapse, I think this is surely a playoff team. They probably won’t win the National League Central because the St. Louis Cardinals are probably the best team in baseball; but the Wild Card is a definite possibility. The 2013 edition of the Pirates has some things that 2011 and 2012 didn’t: Depth and a good catcher.
The Pirates have used 11 different starting pitchers this season, and they have all (with the exception of Jonathan Sanchez) done very well. A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton have all missed significant time, and the Pirates are still in a very good position heading in to the All-Star break.
Instead of having Rod Barajas and his sub-10 percent caught stealing rate behind the plate, the Pirates have Russell Martin and his over-50 percent caught stealing rate catching. The Pirates have the best bullpen in baseball as well, with an extremely dominant back end made up of Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli.
The trade deadline could prove to be very important. If the Pirates are fully committed to winning this season, they need to acquire another arm; whether it be a reliever or a starter, pitching depth is so important. Acquiring a full-time first baseman or full-time right fielder would be another great move for the Pirates to all but guarantee their first playoff appearance since 1992.