A few days ago I saw a comment on Twitter along the lines of how Pittsburgh fans are conditioned to view all sports in the scope of a 16 game schedule. So in cases where the Pirates lose four games in a row, Pittsburgh fans start saying ridiculous things like “The Collapse 3 has started”. It seemed silly earlier in the week when a four game losing streak was seen as more than just a baseball team having a few bad days in a row. When you consider the losing streak came a week after a nine game winning streak, and was immediately followed by a three game winning streak, it seems flat out ridiculous that those four games were highlighted.
I was thinking about the “16 game” tweet today. Simple math says that a 162 game season means that every ten baseball games equals one football game. I was thinking about that tonight, and thinking about how the Pirates are now 5-5 in their last ten games. They were 4-6 in their last ten before tonight’s win. Either way, if that’s a bad stretch, they’re doing pretty good.
I went back further to see what their worst ten game stretch was. I wanted to see if it had gotten worse than that 4-6 run at some point this season. I looked at every ten game stretch to find that worst run. What I found was that the Pirates have never been worse than 4-6 in any ten game stretch this year. And that hasn’t even happened that often. Here are the dates:
April 1st to April 12th: They started the season 4-6, which was fueled by going 1-5 to start the year, then 3-1 in their next few games.
April 29th to May 10th: They had three instances where they lost two games in a row during this stretch.
May 27th to June 5th and May 31st to June 11th: Probably the worst point of the season was when they lost 5 of 6 to the Braves and Reds during this stretch.
July 2nd to July 12th: The start of The Collapse 3.0 happened with their recent four game losing streak.
That’s it. This season there are 83 possible ten game stretches. Out of those 83 stretches, the Pirates only have a losing record in five of them, and they’ve never dropped below 4-6 in any ten game stretch. I only had to check the first ten games in 2012 to find a stretch worse than 4-6. I found six losing 10 game periods by the time I made it to May 6th, 2012.
I don’t know what this says, other than the fact that the Pirates haven’t really seen a big slump this year, and they have rarely seen a losing stretch. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since they are once again tied for the best record in baseball. You don’t get to that point by piling up a lot of losing stretches. I think the numbers cited above are the result of the starting pitching. Pitching has obviously been the strength of the team, but the Pirates also have a situation where on any given day they have a starter who can go out and get a win. In their last 26 games they have given up more than three runs in a game just eight times.
As long as the pitching holds up, this is a team that won’t see too many bad stretches, and will avoid the big losing stretches. The pitching has already seen some serious injury problems in the first half, and the depth has seen a full season’s worth of testing. Even with all of the extreme depth issues, the Pirates have managed the results you see above. Unless a Sharknado takes out the entire pitching staff, I don’t see the Pirates going into a stretch that would lead to The Collapse 3.0.
Links and Notes
**Download the newest episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast: P3 Episode 13: What Are the Needs For the Pirates as the Deadline Nears?