The Cardinals played earlier today and lost, which means that a Pirate win this afternoon pulls the Pirates back to within 1 1/2 games of St. Louis with the Pirates hosting the Cubs (3-7 in their last 10) this weekend while the Cards host the Brewers (8-2). I was being serious last night when I said that I thought a five-game winning streak would put the Pirates back on top of the wild card race. A win this evening will put the Bucs well on their way to testing that prediction.
Of course, to win tonight the Pirates will be batting Clint Barmes second and starting Kevin Correia on the pitcher's mound; both of these things work against the Pirates' functional chances to win a baseball game. Brock Holt batting leadoff against a lefty makes me nervous, too. The one thing that the Pirates have going for them here is the Astros, who have a roster full of players that I had no idea where even fringe Major Leaguers and are starting Fernando Abad, who's served up six taters in 31 2/3 innings with the Astros this year. This isn't a "must-win" game in the strictest sense for the Pirates, but it's definitely one of those games that they'd be much, much better off winning than losing (this is pretty much true for every game from here on out; they should really just stop losing).
First pitch tonight is at 7:05.
"...and starting Kevin Correia on the pitcher's mound; both of these things work against the Pirates' functional chances to win a baseball game."
Here's what bugs me so much about that. We're 27-22 over the last two years when Correia starts. And check the run support argument with the facts; when he pitches well, the team wins. And whether by quality start or game score or, y'know, runs, a KC start has a better than 50% chance of being good enough to get the team a win.
He doesn't strike anyone out, that's really the sole argument that feeds the xFIP/he's awful narrative.
This is a little late, so I'm not sure anyone will see it. (I guess I have nothing better to do in an off day but browse old game posts.) But anyway, I'm not that down on Correia, either. There are players that are able to have success in nontraditional ways, and he might be one.
The problem with Correia trying to be successful without strikeouts, though, is that when he comes off the rails it happens like a lightning strike. A grounder with eyes here, a single or double there, all of a sudden you're down three runs. It's different from a strikeout pitcher running out of gas, and it's not something a manager can plan for and manage with the bullpen. That kind of inconsistency can be dangerous to have in your rotation.
I've reached a level of calm detatchment with this team. The way the last month has unfolded, the idea of the playoffs seems preposterous. Still, it could happen. What is even crazier, it could happen not just in spite of Barmes and Barajas and Correia, but because of them. We could give up an infinite number of stolen bases and still make the playoffs. It is all so insane that it just might happen. So I am going to roll with this thought for the next week and see where it takes me.
@miniplen Extremely well stated. That's where I'm at with this team too. Let's at least get to 82 wins and then see how much season we have left to possibly get 5-8 more. It's funny but the other NL wildcard contenders have been scuffling also - maybe just not as poorly as the Buccos.
@miniplen I've been that way since about July, when I was reading blogs and comment sections. I realized that the following positions were named as positions that could or should be upgraded at the trade deadline: one or two starting pitchers, catcher, shortstop, left field, and first base or right field. I decided to enjoy watching the team try to get out of the canyon and maybejustmaybe make the playoffs, while keeping in mind that for them to do so would defy predictions and statistics.