Speaking for all Pirate fans, I would say we were a little spoiled to see a 15-win turnaround from 2012 to 2013. After watching so much bad baseball (20 years of it, for some), a surge to 94 wins and a playoff performance was simply incredible. They were just winning so much – mostly in exciting fashion, too – that watching the team was so very satisfying in 2013.
After a slow start to the 2014 season, it was easy to lose faith. A weakened pitching staff, a rough April for key bats like Starling Marte (demoted from the leadoff spot) and Pedro Alvarez (demoted from the cleanup spot), brutal losses at the hands of division rivals like Milwaukee and Cincinnati. They weren’t easy games to watch. But things have gotten better…
You might remember the Pirates’ great comeback win on May 2nd, topped off by Marte’s walk-off home run:
Since that night, they have the best record in the Majors:
The Pirates beat the Diamondbacks to raise their record since May 2 to 34-22 (.607). That's the best in baseball.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 3, 2014
Here’s a look at their highs and lows in 2014:
They touched eight games below .500 on a few occasions, but have bounced back to a 44-40 record, four games over, a high water mark for the 2014 campaign to date.
The team is taking shape. Their offense fired on all cylinders last month; they’ve averaged 4.7 runs per game since June 1st. That’s in part to the new-look outfield — the one Pirate fans have been waiting for — which is turning into one of the best in baseball:
Dream Outfield™ since 6/10 Cutch: .325/.432/.550 Marte: .323/.380/.446 Polanco: .306/.392/.435
— Forbes to Federal (@ForbesToFederal) July 3, 2014
The arrival of Polanco has certainly strengthened the team … and you could say he’s a decent talent:
How good is Gregory Polanco? Talked to a scout who loves McCutchen & still said Polanco will "be the best player on their team in 2 years"
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 3, 2014
Andrew McCutchen is a monster (and your NL Player of the Month for June), the lineup is pretty solid, the bench improved thanks to Josh Harrison‘s emergence, the pitching staff has made good strides despite a few injuries. Possibly adding an arm at the deadline — rotation or bullpen — could really help.
ESPN has the Bucs’ playoff odds at about 35%. If you told me on May 1st that this is where they’d be — four games over, two games out of a Wild Card spot — I think I would’ve been impressed.
These recent wins, especially Tuesday night’s comeback rally in the ninth, have been a ton of fun to watch … and felt a little bit like 2013. The Pirates have won each of their last four series, plus 9 of their last 11 games.
They’ve been playing some bad teams — Cubs, Marlins, Rays, Mets, D-backs, and Phillies this weekend. But they’re beating them, like any good team should, and it’s fun to watch. If they can compete with St. Louis and Cincinnati on next week’s roadtrip, they’ll be in a very good spot at the All-Star break…
.607 ball the last two months = good stuff. Life is better when the Pirates win. I’m enjoying this. I hope you are, too.