|It seems unlikely that the Bucs' streak of losing seasons will match Andrew McCutchen's uniform number. (US Presswire)|
Entering their 110th game of the season, the Pirates are 20 wins short of securing the franchise's first winning season since 1992 -- and at 62-47, those in Pittsburgh are more concerned right now about the playoffs than just a winning record.
But without a winning record since Barry Bonds wore a Pirate uniform, even if the Pirates fail to reach the postseason, this year could be deemed a huge success with the end of the dreaded streak of futility. A 20-33 record should be easy enough, but let's not forget that after game 109 last season, the Pirates were 54-55 and went 18-35 down the stretch to log losing season No. 19. Only with a repeat of last year's epic breakdown, will the team finish under .500.
Is that to say this will be done this year -- or even suggest yet another utter collapse? Hardly. The Pirates' rotation is improved from a year ago and despite an offense that is next-to-last in the National League in on-base percentage (.303), the team has pitched well enough and slugged enough to be a legitimate playoff contender (and the second wild card certainly helps).
At this point, the Pirates have a winning percentage of .569 and if that continues, they'll finish 30-23 over the final 53 games of the season, good for a 92-70 record. The team's Pythagorean winning percentage (a formula that takes in the number of runs scored and runs allowed to find a "true" winning percentage) is .532. If the Pirates regress to that number, they'll still go 28-25 over the rest of the season, giving them a final record of 90-68.
The Pirates' remaining schedule includes 32 games against teams that currently have a record under .500 and 21 against teams with winning records. Pittsburgh played nine games against the Brewers, seven against the Cubs and six against the Astros. In total, their remaining opponetns have a .474 winning percentage.
Pittsburgh's also has 30 of their remaining games at PNC Park, where they've won a full two thirds of their games this season. Of their 23 remaining road games, only six are against teams with winning records (three in St. Louis next week and three in Cincinnati in mid-September.
Coolstandings.com has the Pirates' playoff chances at 69.7 percent -- but the probability of ending the streak of losing seasons is much, much better.