The past week went about as good as you could hope for when it comes to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ playoff chances. The Pirates went 6-1 against the Cubs and Phillies. Meanwhile, the Braves went 2-4, the Brewers went 3-4, and the Cardinals went 3-4, including going 1-3 against the Reds. As a result, the Pirates enter the weekend with a 1.5 game lead in the second Wild Card spot, and sit 2.5 games back in the NL Central.

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: 85.7 wins, 61.8% chance to make playoffs

The Baseball Prospectus odds soared by about 40 percentage points, with the Pirates picking up about three extra wins in the projected standings over the last week. BP now has the Pirates projected as the second Wild Card team, although they do have them lower than the other projection systems, while giving Atlanta and Milwaukee a better chance.

FanGraphs: 85.6 wins, 70.5% chance to make playoffs

FanGraphs also went way up this past week, seeing about a 40 point jump, along with a two win increase. The FanGraphs odds almost eliminated the Braves from “contender” status, with Atlanta finishing at 15.8% to make the playoffs, which is just over the 15% limit.

Clay Davenport: 86.0 wins, 71.2% chance to make playoffs

Clay Davenport also saw a jump of about 40 points, and about two wins. After a week off last week, they moved to being the highest on the Pirates to make the playoffs, which has been the case for most of this season.

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

Nationals

100.0

93

69

2

Dodgers

100.0

92

70

3

Giants

98.8

90

72

4

Cardinals

95.5

88

74

5

Pirates

67.8

86

76

6

Brewers

19.3

83

79

7

Braves

18.4

83

79

The Pirates jumped way up the list this last week, which is something that happens when you go 6-1 and the two opponents you passed had losing records for the week. As of right now, the projections have the Pirates playing in the second Wild Card spot, although the way the projections line up is interesting. The Pirates are actually closer in the projections to the Cardinals than they are to the Giants.

It’s the same story in the standings. The Pirates are closer to the Cardinals and first place in the NL Central (2.5 games back) than they are to the Giants and the top Wild Card spot (4 games back). A week ago I wrote that the Pirates might not be able to improve on the second Wild Card spot. The current projections don’t disagree with this. However, the Pirates are now a lot closer to the division, thanks to their performance this past week, combined with a 1-3 series by the Cardinals against the Reds.

At this point, I think the Pirates have a strong chance to make the playoffs, despite the fact that they only have a 1.5 game lead in the Wild Card race. They have a fairly easy schedule down the stretch, and if they keep playing like the last week where they beat up on weaker teams, then they’ll coast to the second Wild Card spot. But to improve their playoff standings, something else will have to repeat from the last week: they’ll have to get help. The Cardinals have a somewhat easy schedule, but didn’t take advantage of this. Another week of the Pirates taking advantage and the Cardinals struggling could result in the Pirates being in first place by the time next week’s article comes around.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. What I find interesting is that all those projections lead to 86 wins. The Vegas over/under on the Bucs was 86.5! Wow, I’m glad I didn’t grab my mortgage papers and bed over. To be honest I saw them as about an 87-89 win team hoping to stay competitive for the second wild card.

  2. There are no easy games on the schedule for any team especially the ones that have the Reds left on their schedule. I am always amused at the schedule watching down the stretch, if the team takes other teams for granted they will find out what losing a playoff spot looks like. Leyland once said, winning a major league baseball game against any major league team is tough to do. Seems like the Pirates have a problem they won’t overcome, when they win it is because the other teams suck, when they lose, they stink.

  3. At this point, I think I might prefer that LA and SF go down to the wire for the West division. Have the WC game be a complete let down for whichever. Meanwhile, have them both play a ton of high pressure games the final week so they can’t set up their rotation well in advance.

    • I am having cold sweats and nightmares about those four in Atlanta. too many curses and bad karma there!
      What I am really hoping for is for our sweep of them at home to put the last nail in the Brewers coffin!
      Go Bucs

    • I’d kind of like to see the Reds stay hot for another series. I want the Brewers to come to PNC completely deflated.

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