Pittsburgh Pirates Look Like Serious NL Contenders

By Gregory Philson
Josh Harrison
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates survived the loss of MVP Andrew McCutchen, went through a bit of an offensive dry spell, and have recently come right back into the thick of it in the NL Central and Wild Card races.

The Pirates lost 5-4 to the rival St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Monday. Still, the Pirates are playing well, and one game does not make a season. The Pirates now look not only like a team that can make the playoffs, but also true contenders to claim the NL pennant. The Pirates have been one of the best offensive teams all season long as they rank second in OBP .329. They also rank in the top half of MLB in BA (seventh), slugging percentage (eighth) and runs (12th).

That offense has helped keep the Bucs going since the overall pitching numbers are nothing spectacular. However, the Pirates’ ERA has been 1.67 over the last six games.

If the offense can continue to keep pace, the Pirates will be one of the most well-rounded clubs in the NL. Josh Harrison should seriously be in the running as a top-three MVP candidate as he posted fantastic numbers while helping the Pirates during McCutchen’s DL stint. McCutchen still leads the team in homers, RBI, OBP and hits, while Neil Walker (3.1 WAR) has been one of the better offensive second baseman in the league.

Jordy Mercer (15 OWAR) is also contributing at shortstop probably more so that anyone would have predicted, and the rest of the team seems to come through when they need to. All of this has allowed the Pirates to come within two games of the division lead.

Obviously, winning the division makes the playoff run easier. There is only a month remaining in baseball’s regular season, and if the Pirates can ride the momentum of their recent success, they will definitely claim a playoff spot and possibly make a deep run.

Gregory T. Philson is an MLB contributing writer at RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your network on Google. Read more here.

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