The Pirates (72-69) are a team in free fall, losers of five straight and a pathetic 13-25 since August 1st, including a 2-8 record since September 1st. It is another late season collapse but amazingly the Pirates are still only 2.5 games out of the second wildcard spot, currently held by the St. Louis Cardinals (75-67).
Neither St. Louis or the Los Angeles Dodgers (74-68) have ran away with the No. 2 wildcard spot, which has opened the door for the Philadelphia Phillies (71-71) and Milwaukee Brewers (71-71) to become serious contenders for the second wildcard spot, trailing the Cardinals by four games. That complicates the Pirates matters even more if the team were to magically change their fortunes around. Just a few weeks ago, it was really only the Cardinals, Dodgers and Pirates in the mix. Now the Phillies and Brewers are right in the thick of things and superior teams to the Pirates. Statistically you have to keep talking about the Pirates being in the wildcard hunt but the reality of the situation is that the more burning question is whether the team is going to avoid a 20th straight losing season and finish above .500.
With 21 games remaining, the Pirates have to go 10-11 to record their first winning season since 1992. That is no easy feat. This team has buckled under pressure when the real games began in August and September and that’s all to be said for their collapse.
The most dangerous team to watch down the stretch here for the second wildcard spot is clearly the Philadelphia Phillies. Hard to bet against them when they can send Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee to the mound, in addition to Kyle Kendrick who has also been excellent of late. In the next week, the schedule also sets up so favorably for the Phillies to make a run with their next eight games against Marlins (1), Astros (4) and Mets (3).