The Pittsburgh Pirates have underperformed this year. After winning 98 games a season ago, the Pirates are just 64-61 and trail the Cubs (81-45) by 16.5 games in the NL Central. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a team making the playoffs with that big of a division deficit.

Is the Pirates’ season over?

“You want to say it is, but you look at the Wild Card standings and they’re only two-and-a-half out,” Yahoo! Sports MLB writer Chris Cwik said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “So I don’t want to count them all the way out. This is a team that people had high expectations for at the beginning of the year. The puzzling thing to me has just been that pitching staff, which has really been a source of greatness for them the last couple seasons. The pitching coach, Ray Searage, has really emerged as one of the better guys in the game and he’s had all this luck turning guys around. Suddenly, that Searage magic has kind of run out this season. That’s been one of the most shocking and surprising things for me. This has been one of the worst starting rotations in baseball. That was definitely viewed as one of the stronger points coming in, just based on some of the guys they had, some of the guys that were coming up, and Searage’s reputation. I don’t want to fully count them out, but it certainly looks to me as though the writing’s on the wall and they’re probably the fifth- or sixth-best team in the National League right now.”

The Dodgers (71-56), meanwhile, maintain a two-game lead over the Giants (69-58) in the NL West, and Rich Hill could be exactly the addition that Los Angeles needed. Previously with Oakland, he pitched six scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over the Giants on Wednesday.

“He’s been a fantastic story,” Cwik said. “The thing with him was health. As long as they can get him on the mound, I’m buying what he’s done over the past maybe 19 starts. I think you have to buy it a little bit at this point. So I like him as a solid No. 2 if they can get Kershaw back. I think that gives them a nice little 1-2 punch if they were to get in the postseason.”

The Dodgers have also gotten a boost from 22-year-old rookie shortstop Corey Seager, who is hitting .322 with 22 homers, 61 RBIs and a .377 OBP this season. He’s also hit 35 doubles, has scored 86 runs and is playing excellent defense.

“In my mind, he’s the runner up for the MVP in the National League right now,” Cwik said. “It seems like no one’s talking about him, but he’s having this tremendous season.”


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