Even With McCutchen and Walker Injured, Pirates Still Projected For the Playoffs

I held off on doing a playoff odds update last week because I was waiting to see how things might change with Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker likely heading to the disabled list. And then neither player went on the DL. McCutchen eventually was placed on the DL, although that happened this week. It doesn’t look like Walker is going to be placed on the DL at all.

Meanwhile, the Pirates have found a way to continue winning, going 7-6 so far in the month of August. They’ve got a tough schedule coming up, with games on the road against the Nationals and Brewers, and games at home against the Braves and Cardinals.

The playoff odds and projections come from the top three projection sites: Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs and ClayDavenport.com. Here are the latest projections.

Baseball Prospectus: 85.5 wins, 62.6% chance to make playoffs

The Baseball Prospectus odds are the only odds where the Pirates rank ahead of the Cardinals. They also rank ahead of the Giants, giving the Pirates the first Wild Card spot in these projections.

FanGraphs: 85.3 wins, 59.5% chance to make playoffs

FanGraphs has the NL Central going an entirely different direction. They’ve got the Cardinals with the best chance of making the playoffs, the Brewers second, and the Pirates third. The Pirates are just edging out the Giants with their odds of making the post-season, with a difference of 0.2 projected wins.

Clay Davenport: 85.7 wins, 63.5% chance to make playoffs

The projections from Clay Davenport have been the highest on the Pirates all season as far as their odds of making the post-season, although the other projection systems are gaining on them. Davenport has the Pirates as the second Wild Card team, and the difference here is that they’re beating out the Giants by a full win.

The Competition

Here are the rankings of the NL contenders. To get “contender” status, a team must have a 15% or better to make the playoffs in all three projection systems.

  Team Odds W L

1

Dodgers

99.0

92

70

2

Nationals

96.8

90

72

3

Brewers

73.7

87

75

4

Cardinals

69.2

86

76

5

Pirates

61.9

86

76

6

Giants

57.2

85

77

The Atlanta Braves, who are now 61-60, have dropped off the contenders list after falling below 15% in the Clay Davenport projections. None of the other projections for the Braves were that high, so even if they do slightly improve in that one area, they’d clearly be the number seven team on this list.

The Pirates have dropped slightly since the last update, although their odds of making the playoffs have gone up a bit. Currently they’re projected to win the second Wild Card, edging out the Giants. If you look at the projected wins and losses, then it remains a close race all around. The Brewers are currently projected to win the division by one game, with the Cardinals and Pirates tied for the Wild Card spot, and the Giants one game behind them.

There are six games remaining each against the Brewers and Cardinals, and those games could go a long way to deciding the NL Central race and the Wild Card order. The first of those games will start next weekend, but before that happens, the Pirates have to go up against one of the best teams in the NL — the Nationals — along with trying to capitalize on the struggling Braves.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • wkkortas

    Can we skip the rest of the season and go straight to the projections?

  • leadoff

    I don’t think the projections mean much to the Pirates, they keep losing players, the infield at the end of the game yesterday featured 3 utility players, the outfield had a bench player and the catcher was a bench player, the pen featured a call up in a high leverage situation. I know Harrison plays a lot, but not SS.

    • S Brooks

      I look at it the other way – Walker likely back tonight, Cole likely back for the Atlanta series, Cutch could be ready for the Milwaukee series. That’s a lot of talent being added to a team that’s managed to go 5-4 since Walker’s last start.

      • leadoff

        Good to be optimistic, but facts are they are not down 2 players, I just mentioned that they only had 3 players on the field at the end of the Tiger game that are regular players and only 3 that were playing in their regular positions at the end of the game, that is a lot more than a two player missing problem.

        • S Brooks

          That’s certainly a stretch. Stewart was in there because it was Martin’s scheduled day off. Martin is healthy.

          Gaby was in there because a lefty (Coke) was pitching, and he’s been a frequent defensive replacement anyway. Davis played all 8 defensive innings.

          Walker was available to hit – he was on deck when the game ended – and had the team pulled off a miracle and tied the game, would have been in a position to take the field in the bottom of the 9th.

          Tonight they will once again have 6 regular players in the lineup: Martin, Davis, Walker, Harrison, Marte, Polanco. Mercer is day to day until we hear more.

          And of the two non-regulars, Snider is hardly a scrub – he’s started 41 times and has been the team’s best hitter this month.

          • S Brooks

            Make that 7 regulars – welcome back Pedro!!!

            • pilbobuggins

              Now that’s funny, thanks for lightening up my day. Lol, welcome back pedro, that’s a good one.

              • S Brooks

                Gotta keep it light. Playoff races are stressful.

                I’ll be throwing Barmes a party. Mariachi. Barbecued ribs. The works.

                • pilbobuggins

                  Save me some ribs.

  • gregenstein

    As many warts as the Pirates have, I feel like the Cards and Giants have at least as many, if not more. The Cardinals couldn’t hit their way out of a damaged pinata.

    • leadoff

      The Pirates are not suffering from a wart problem, they are suffering from a damaged team problem. The Cards and the Giants do not have anywhere near the problems the Pirates have, they just don’t have as many good players as the Pirates have. They can’t hit their way out of a damaged pinata because they don’t have the talent to do it, the Pirates do, all they need is to get them on the field.

    • pilbobuggins

      I said the same thing about the cards after the moves they made at the deadline. I think the pitching moves are a wash at best and losing craig will hurt them , i know he’s on the dl now but that’s not the point. The point is they needed help on the offence and did not get it, in fact they got weaker. This division is the bucs to take this year, they just have to step up and take it. That however is the million dollar question my friend. Will they?

  • Johnny Delancey

    The Pirates are going to return to the postseason.

  • pilbobuggins

    I’m thinking the bucs should take at least one from the nats anything more would be gravy. They should take two of three from the braves with a sweep not out of the question. With that said the time between august 22nd and september 7th is going to decide who wins this division. The pirates and cards match up well and those six games could go either way, they have to remember what they did last year to win in sewer land, the reds series should go the pirates way as well as the cubs. This is going to be a tough couple of weeks, let’s hope we are celebrating at the end of them.

  • pilbobuggins

    Does anybody else feel this way too? If the chances of martin coming back are slim and the season is winding down, don’t you think it’s time to start seeing more of martin and less of stewart? Seems like every other day stewart is crouching behind the plate. If this is the last we will see of martin I for one would like to see him in more games with a lot less stewart sightings. Without martin the lineup is shorter and the younger pitchers seem to do better with him behind the plate. In short, time is short so go with the best guy we have while we have him.

    • Bill

      Most positions I would say yes, but not catcher, it is the most physically and mentally demanding position on the field. As the season winds down and our playoff chances improve, keep giving him rest. If we can play .500 against the good teams, I am ok with a throw away game here and there. We just need to beat the bad teams. Once we get into September, if it is still a close race, at some point I might reconsider, but not in mid August.

      • pilbobuggins

        Thanks bill, I agree. I’ m just frustrated, read my reply to isutton to see why.

    • lsutton

      Stewart has played 3 games so far this month, just over once a week. Not exactly the same as “every other day”. To see less Stewart sightings, you would basically have to never use him. Seeing as you are asking the most demanding position to be played by one game for 40 games in a row, you are asking too much of the human body. You are way too upset over Martin missing 1 game a week. I know itll be the “1 game a week can be the difference!” response by most, but you cant throw Russ out there 40 games in a row with only 4 off days left. We end the season with 13 straight games, so id like him as ready for that as possible.

      • pilbobuggins

        Fair enough, I’m just not a big stewart fan, he’s just not very good. I’ m sure somebody on here will tell me all about this or that stat that says he should be performing better than he is or something to that effect. Bottom line is he stinks. I guess I’m just frustrated that the pirates don’t have a better option as backup. I know they have sanchez but his arm is on par with pedro. Oh well,what to do,what to do?

  • Bill

    The Pirates have a stretch in September that, on paper, looks like they can run off quite a few wins. As long as they can remain close until then and be healthy when they get there, I really like their chances.

  • Jared

    The Pirates are going to have a very very hard time living up to those projections when they cannot win on the road. 0-3…not a very good view of things to come. They absolutely have to change their fate not he road.