|Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney
A full generation of baseball fans has grown up without watching the Pittsburgh Pirates reach the playoffs — but barring a truly epic collapse, that should change in just a couple of months. Thanks to a recent winning surge at the expense of longtime NL Central leader St. Louis, and with the advent of the second wild card, the postseason will likely feature the first winning Pirates team since 1992.
Though Pittsburgh takes the top spot, here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the league shaking out:
1. Pittsburgh Pirates (65-42; LW: 4) – Roney: Pittsburgh has been in good position to post a winning record the last two seasons, but has faded down the stretch; thanks to a deep rotation, that isn't likely to be the case this year.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (64-44; LW: 5) – Zuckerman: 6-10 record vs. Boston right now is the difference. They only face each other 3 more times.
3. Boston Red Sox (65-44; LW: 2) – Zuckerman: The acquisition of Peavy really helps bolster the rotation and sets them up for stretch run.
4. Oakland A's (63-45; LW: 3) – Hughes: Bartolo Colon is 14-3 with a 2.50 ERA at the age of 40, but will reportedly avoid a Biogenesis suspension. Exactly how is anyone's guess.
5. Detroit Tigers (61-45; LW: 8) – Roney: The Tigers inserted themselves into the Peavy trade, netting noted gloveman Jose Iglesias. He could stick in the majors for 10 years based on his defense alone, but he's likely to be a No. 9 hitter the entire time.
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