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Pirates have day off, but still improve playoff chances

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates had the day off yesterday (along with the Cardinals and Brewers), but they improved in the Wild Card standings without doing much, as both the Giants and Braves lost. Atlanta is now all the way down at 75-75, and their playoff chances have shrunk to a measly 1.3 percent. That's great for the Pirates, who play the Braves four times next week -- the less relevant they are by then, the better.

The Pirates' competition for the second Wild Card spot, then, is basically down to one team, the Brewers. The Bucs play them this weekend; fortunately, it's in Pittsburgh, not Milwaukee. ESPN has the Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers and Giants all but set for the playoffs, with the Pirates coming in at close to an 80 percent chance. The Bucs are 3.5 games behind the Cardinals and 2.5 back of the Giants, though, which makes any outcome other than traveling to San Francisco for the Wild Card game unlikely.