Pittsburgh Pirates’ Baseball Odds for the 2015 Playoffs

Posted by Daniel Strum on August 10, 2015 in

When the Pittsburgh Pirates surprised MLB Betting fans with their first playoff appearance in 20 years last season, the thought was that manager Clint Hurdle was just at the start of a long run in the playoffs. However, it’s not clear whether the Pirates will be able to return in 2015.

A Closer Look at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Baseball Odds for the 2015 Playoffs

To start with, the Pirates are far enough behind the St. Louis Cardinals to make observers wonder whether they have any prayer of catching them. The wild card field is full of contenders, including the Nationals, Mets, Cubs, Giants and Padres – all vying for two spots. So that is a dicey enough proposition as it is. So let’s look at how the team is performing right now – and what they need to do to elevate their game and go back into the postseason.

The offense has been rejuvenated after the team added Gregory Polanco. As long as Polanco, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen are playing in the outfield, you’ll have a unit that delivers consistently at the plate. Second baseman Neil Walker missed two weeks for an appendectomy but has still contributed at the plate all year. Shortstop Jody Mercer had a hot June with the bat as well. They are hitting a decent number of home runs even after losing Pedro Alvarez, and their speed on the bases has them ranking well above average in stolen bases. Last year, the offense was the concern – but this year it is the offense doing the heavy lifting for this team.

This means that the pitching has been the unit that has needed the help this season, both among the starters and in the bullpen. Starters such as Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano have been in and out of the rotation due to injruy, and so Jeff Locke, Vance Worley and Brandon Cumpton have had to come up form the minor leagues and fill in the gaps. These three pitchers have performed well, but the loss of Wandy Rodriguez showed the turmoil that the rotation had to endure.

The team had to send Jason Grilli out of the closing role, and the bullpen has been much more chaotic than in 2014, going form a team strength to a team liability – without many changes in terms of personnel. The team has an ERA of 3.85, 18th in MLB. The rotation has 21 wins – the third fewest in baseball. The bullpen was leading the major leagues in blown saves at the All-Star break.

According to manager Clint Hurdle, it’s not quite time to panic yet. He realizes that the lineup has a lot of energy, particularly at the top. However, eh also understands that the pitching has to get better for the team to compete going down the stretch. He is optimistic especially given the performance of the minor league additions, but he also knows where the team needs to be. As the summer wears on, the Pirates do have the chance to emerge atop the wild card standings, if they can pitch more consistently.