Longtime reader here, first time poster.
I was wondering if we should take anything away from these last few days of ball. Lately the Pirates have been winning a few more games than usual, which led me to wonder, is this just a stretch of lucky ball? I found myself with three explanations:
2. The Diamondbacks are a bad team, and the Cardinals have given up on the playoffs.
3. The Pirates were intentionally playing worse ball than they should have been before this(not from the beginning of the season, but somewhere later when the year was in the can), in order to try to lock up the first pick. With that pick all but guaranteed, Russell decided to stop making terrible lineups and decisions (batting relievers, leaving relievers in too long, and others that I'm sure you guys can remember better than me), and see how well his team could play given the chance to win.
I fully realize that choice three is pretty much just my hoping, but the Pirates have just recorded their longest win streak of the year (immediately after suffering the worst playing of the year). Is there any chance that the last few months were intentionally coached by JR below his ability?