Forget all this talk about the first winning season since 1992. Over .500 is small potatoes now.
The division title? Nice, but merely a means to an end.
The bar has been raised.
With the best record in baseball and a semi-commanding four-game lead in the NL Central, the Pirates are a legit possibility to win the World Series.
According to Las Vegas, the Pirates opened the season as 60-1 longshots. They were 15-1 at the All-Star break. They’re currently 10-1.
Not quite favored. Seven teams have better odds, with the Los Angeles Dodgers top of the heap at 9-2.
But the Pirates have pitching. Loads and loads of pitching.
If the Pirates can avoid that one-game wild-card crapshoot, pitching takes over in best-of-fives and best-of-sevens. The need for just four starters in the post-season means the Pirates’ incredible relief corps gets that much deeper.
Isolated moments would be worrisome. You can’t hide a weak bat forever. The Pirates have a few of those, and very little in the way of pinch-hitting.
But in the playoffs, pitching matters far more than anything. Who has better pitching than the Pirates? Burnett. Liriano. That bullpen. Incredible.
If the Pirates win the World Series after 20 straight years in the crapper, that would be one of the best stories in Pittsburgh sports history.
It’s going to happen.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.