June was not pretty for the Pirates. An 8-1 win in Seattle Wednesday closed out the Pirates worst month since the start of the 2013 season. The Bucs finished 9-19, for a .321 winning percentage. It was only the team's second losing month since the start of 2013 and their worst month since the dramatic collapses of 2011 when they went 8-22, .267 in August and 2012 when they went 7-21, .250 in September.
Vegas certainly hasn't liked what they've seen from the Pirates of late. Bovada had the Pirates as 20:1 shots to win the World Series on May 3. By June 1 those odds had risen to 28:1. The disaster that was June has reset the number at 66:1. (Hey wasn't that Mario's number?) But all is not lost. Coming into today's action the Pirates still only find themselves 3.5 games out of a wild card spot with 83 games to play.
Looking back at history, only three World Series Champions in the last 16 years have gone the entire season without a losing month, so stretches of subpar play are not uncommon. However only three of those teams endured months below .400, the 2015 Royals (11-17, .393 in September), the 2014 Giants (10-16, .385 in June), and the 2006 Cardinals (9-16, .360 in June) and obviously none did as poorly as the Pirates did in June.
The Pirates have a big 10-game stretch starting tonight heading into the All-Star break. They open with three in Oakland against the A's, go to St. Louis for four with the Cards and close with three at home against the Cubs. Any result .500 or above would be a good start heading into the four-day break.
After the break the schedule turns a bit more favorable for the Bucs. My on-going mantra on the show is "Beat the bad teams, play .500 against the good teams and it will all work out." Of their remaining 73 games the Pirates will play 16 vs Milwaukee (.449), 11 vs Cincinnati (.363), 7 vs Philadelphia (.438), 3 vs Atlanta (.342) and 3 vs San Diego (.418). That's 40 games against teams with an average winning percentage of .412. If the Bucs are able to win two-thirds of those games that would be 26 wins. If they win half, 17 of the remaining 33, that would be 43 wins after the break. If they win six of their remaining ten before the break, that's 49 wins which would leave them with a record of 87-75.
My guess is that might leave them a game or two short of the wild card. I think 89 wins will get them into the wild card game for the fourth consecutive year. The rest of the season starts tonight. Enjoy the ride.