The Pittsburgh Pirates have a lot of support in the baseball community just because the prospect of seeing them make the playoffs for the first time in 19 years would be good for the game.
When a conversation about the Pirates arises, it usually goes like this, “Yeah, I’d love to see them make it, but I don’t think they can keep up their pace.”
The naysayers might be right, The Bucs have hit the brick wall and it’s anyone guess if they have something left in the tank hard to get their second wind back for a September run. They’re still 14 games above .500 and have a 2½ game lead for the last wild card spot, but that margin is attributed more to the teams below them floundering.
Over the last 14 games, they’ve gone 6-8 and missed golden opportunities along the way. The NL Central leading Reds had gone through a funk and Pittsburgh matched them loss for loss. When the two teams faced each other, Cincinnati took two of three.
San Diego has proven to be pesky against the Pirates for some reason over the last few years, but they’re still the woeful Padres. A team like that should not be going into PNC Park and sticking it to the Bucs, taking two of three like they did over the weekend.
Pittsburgh made a few trades before the deadline that might be questioned if the Bucs fail, in particular trading away left-handed reliever Brad Lincoln, who had been one of their star performers getting virtually every out he was called upon to do. The aftermath and short term results of acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, Travis Snider, Chad Qualls and Gabby Sanchez remains to be seen, but the chemistry on the squad doesn’t look the same.
Andrew McCutchen has been carrying the Bucs all season with a .362 average, but in 11 August games, he’s hitting only .286 with one home run and 5 RBI’s. James McDonald’s pitching was a major reason why the Bucs jumped out and became contenders prior to the All-Star break, but he’s been blasted in his last six starts with the team going 1-5 behind him.
Even A.J. Burnett has gotten into the act of underperforming as he lost his last start. Pittsburgh had won 15 of his past 16 starts until Saturday, a day of the week they have dominated throughout the season going 15-2, but have now lost their last two.
It just seems like everything is caving in for the Pirates. While they should be in good shape to have their first winning season in 19 years, it’s hard to ignore that Pirates were almost in the same situation last season and finished with a losing record.
Perhaps I’m just being a pessimist so I’m not overly disappointed if the Pirates don’t make the playoffs. I have nothing at stake here except wanting new colors in the postseason, especially one of the most storied franchises in the history of the game.
If thinking their second wind will come, you can go to the LVH Super Book where they currently have the Pirates at 12-to-1 to win the NL and 25-1 to win the World Series.
Jered finally loses
You knew it couldn’t last and you’d feel foolish if betting against Jered Weaver, but those that took that chance when he was a -280 favorite Sunday against Jason Vargas and the Mariners got a nice pay day.
Despite the juicy plus-money, there weren’t many takers. The bulk of the action was on Weaver, and in particular, the run-line (-1½ -120) where the money differential made it hard to pass up. Weaver had won nine straight games covering the run-line before Sunday’s game.
Weaver has been sensational all season long and is the easy choice to win the AL Cy Young. At home, he was on another planet all by himself going 8-0 with an ERA of 0.92. The Angels had won 12 straight games with Weaver on the mound before Sunday and had gone 17-3 on the season.
The loss came at bad time for the Angels who have been struggling lately, falling eight games behind the Rangers and allowing the A’s to pass them for second in the AL West. Through Sunday, the Angels were two games out of the Wild Card chase with four teams above them.
Making matters worse is that the thriving hitters from June and July such as Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols, the heart of their lineup, have been quiet. Pujols went a disappointing 0-for-12 over the weekend.
Despite all the issues, the LVH still has the Angels 11-to-2 to win the AL and 10-1 to capture the World Series.