Let's assume the worst and figure that the Bucs current five game winning streak will end today at the hands of King Felix in Seattle. Not unreasonable, and perfectly forgivable. That would put them at 16 over .500 with 15 games to play before the break. Those 15 games come against teams - Brewers, Phillies, Cubs, Athletics, and Mets - with a combined record of 175-205 (.460). Only one of those teams, the A's has a winning record. To hit that +20 mark, the Bucs would have to go 10-5 in these 15 games. Even against poor competition, that is asking a lot. However, should they go 9-7 in that stretch, the exact pace on which they are playing for the season, that would put them at 56-37, or nineteen games over. I'll take it.
Also, while 10-5 may be asking a lot, a break even of 8-7 is not asking too much and would make them 55-38, seventeen over and one over last season's high water mark. I'll take that, too.
In any event, it is a fun little interim race-within-a-race that we can watch.
Since we're talking about the Pirates here, let me address a topic that has been raging since Sunday, when GM Neal floated the possibility on his weekly radio show that Gerrit Cole might be returned to Indianapolis when Wandy Rodriguez and/or A.J. Burnett return from the disabled list. Yes, this is the Gerrit Cole who is 3-0 with a 3.44 ERA and an 8:1 K:BB ratio, and who looked like a right handed Steve Carlton in his start against the Angels last Friday. Let's assume that Huntington has more baseball acumen than any of us and that Cole does indeed need to "work on a few things" in the minors. That may rile me up, but I guess I can live with it. Here's the real part of Huntington's comments that really fries my eggs. He stated that such a demotion would have "nothing to do with" Cole's service time and attainment of Super 2 status, which would make him arbitration eligible a year earlier than the team would like.
Aside from this being yet another "business over baseball" decision by the Pirates, it is another example of NH insulting the intelligence of the Pirates fan base. How dumb does he really think we are? Strap on a pair and tell us the truth for once, Neal. We might not agree with you, but we can take it.
Let's be honest, the Pirates are where they are today in large part because of acquisitions and signings of players that Neal brought here. A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Mark Melancon, Jeff Locke, Jason Grilli, Russell Martin, Jordy Mercer, Pedro Alvarez, Justin Wilson, and, yes, GERRIT COLE, and I've probably left out a few. So just when you start getting some warm and fuzzy thoughts about Neal, he shovels another load of NHB on us about why Cole might be sent down.
Drives you crazy.