By pretty much any measure, the Pirates have at least 90 percent odds of making the postseason in some capacity (ESPN has them at 94 percent, for example). As of this writing, their closest wildcard pursuers beyond the Reds are the Diamondbacks (eight games back) and Phillies (12 games back). The Dodgers are leading the N.L. West but are only a half-game better than Arizona. So in reality, both teams would need to make up 7.5 games to knock the Pirates out, because one will get the division.
So, duh. The Pirates are in pretty good position to make it.
Also, duh, the Pirates' run differential suggests they're not going to catch the Cardinals, even with a substantial upgrade at the much-talked about right field slot. That's not to say they couldn't, but statistically, the odds are better they'll fall further behind.
Finally, if the Pirates make a Division Series, the odds are pretty good they're going to face an N.L. Central team. If the Pirates win the division, they'll likely get the No. 1 seed. The Braves are four games behind the Pirates now, but have suffered some pretty key injuries lately. So the Pirates would probably draw the winner of the Wild Card game, which would project to be the Cardinals or Reds. If the Bucs lose the division but win the Wild Card, they'll probably play either the Reds or Cardinals, then move onto the Division Series to face the Reds or Cardinals.
Translation: They're probably going to need to beat the same two teams in the playoffs regardless of how the last 62 games play out.
Given that, I'm interested to hear how important you guys think the non-waiver deadline is for this team. In all likelihood, bats will be cheaper once more teams concede they're "out of it," and we all know trading happens frequently up until the waiver deadline of Aug. 31.
I think there's an argument to be made that the Pirates can afford to let the sellers come to them in August. That's not to say they should concede the division race to do it. But I think, given the wildcard lead, it's worth discussing, both here and in the front office, whether a couple of extra weeks with an Alex Rios, Hunter Pence, Mike Morse or Kendry Morales is really worth caving to what's shaping up to be a pretty seller-friendly market for a division race you're probably not going to win. Or, is it worth going after the four aforementioned names because they appear to be the most available right now when there could be a better fit available in a couple of weeks?
I don't really know. That's why I wrote this. I'd like to hear what you guys think because it's an avenue I don't hear too many people discussing right now.