The Pittsburgh Pirates are one team contending for the two spots in the National League Wild Card. While losing seven straight games just two weeks ago, the Pirates are, prior to today, only 1.5 games behind the second Wild Card position. Their win today over the St. Louis Cardinals puts them within reach for the Wild Card as well as the division.
The Pirates certainly aren’t the flashiest team in the league, but they sure find a way to win games with great fundamentals. They are among the top teams in MLB in OBP (2nd), and other than Pedro Alvarez’s troubles at third base, their defense has been great. This has managed to keep their team in almost every game this season.
The occasional MLB fan might only recognize one name from their team, Andrew McCutchen. His presence to this lineup has been detrimental to this teams success. Although it is a small sample size, the Pirates are 5-9 during the August stretch when McCutchen was injured. The 2013 NL MVP award winner has taken this team to a whole new level, as fans expect to see the Pirates competing for the playoffs every season.
In one of the most competitive divisions in MLB, the Pirates needed to take two of three against the Cardinals. The sooner they win against their NL Central opponents, they more pressure they put on the two Wild Card teams to win. The next nine games will be against the three NL Central teams. This stretch could determine the fate of their playoff opportunity.