On Friday, I looked at the drop the Pittsburgh Pirates saw in their playoff odds. A big reason for this drop was due to their 1-5 week, when everyone else in the NL Central or NL Wild Card race had big weeks. Fortunately, the Pirates are in a position where they control their own destiny. They are currently in a stretch of games that includes nine games against the Brewers and Cardinals in the span of a week and a half. If they can do well in those games, they can reverse what happened last week by having a good record while giving their opponents a bad record during that same time span.
So far, so good after the last two nights.
The Pirates have taken two of three from Milwaukee, in Milwaukee. Tomorrow they go for the sweep, with the chance to move to three games back in the NL Central. Earlier this week it looked like they had no shot at all for the division. This big series could have pulled them back into that race.
It’s hard to ignore the huge impact that Pedro Alvarez had tonight. It’s also hard to not dream about the Pirates’ lineup if Alvarez goes on one of his patented hot streaks that seem to happen about two months after every season. Consider…
**They just got their MVP, Andrew McCutchen, back from an injury. Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer are also back and healthy.
**Travis Snider has stepped up in a big way lately, earning his playing time over Gregory Polanco in right field.
**Josh Harrison continues to be the biggest surprise on the team this season, and looks like a guy who should be a starter at third base.
**Russell Martin has always had the defense, but is having a career year offensively this season. The only season in his career that was better than the current one offensively? 2007.
**Starling Marte started the year on a slow note, but since mid-June (when Polanco arrived) he has a .933 OPS, not counting tonight’s game.
The Pirates are getting production from every position. Russell Martin is a two-way catcher this year. Neil Walker is having a career year. Jordy Mercer and Starling Marte have been great since June. Travis Snider has been great lately. Josh Harrison continues his breakout season. Andrew McCutchen is his usual MVP self.
If you add Alvarez in that mix at first, while he’s going on one of his month-long power tears, then this is an offense that can be downright dangerous, as we saw tonight.
This could just be one good night from Alvarez. But you hope that it’s more than just one night, especially with some of the most important games of the year coming up. With everyone else firing on all cylinders, this would be the perfect time for Pedro to come up with another hot streak.
Links and Notes
**The 2014 Prospect Guide is on sale in the Pirates Prospects store. The paperback version has dropped to $14.99 plus shipping. We currently only have one case of books remaining, and the offer is only valid while the books are in stock. There is also an eBook version available for $9.99. The 2013 Prospect Guide is on clearance for $1.