There are only 11 games left in the 2011 baseball season and there does not appear to be much left for the Pirates to show. Jeff Locke has struggled in his first two starts and while two strong starts to finish the season would be nice it wouldn’t really tell us anything about him. The SS position has some settling to do but we already know what we have in Cedeno and I think we have also seen enough of d’Arnaud. Maybe there are a few bullpen arms who could use a strong finish to earn a spot in next year’s pen but really that is nothing to get too excited about. Basically there isn’t much left to keep fans watching.
The Pirates if they go 5-5 will avoid 90 losses this season but the average fan doesn’t care about that. The Cubs have closed in on 4th place but the difference between 4th and 5th place in the division is a moot point to many. To me the battle with the Cubs is actually the most important thing remaining. Headed into this season it appeared clear there was a top half of the division (Brewers, Cardinals, Reds) and a bottom half (Cubs, Pirates, Astros). The Pirates shook that formation by their good early season play but never really settled into the top half. Instead they climbed into the middle and the Reds seemingly fell down to the middle. Letting the Cubs pass us will completely erase that progress from the bottom of the pack to the middle of the pack. Yes I know that is mainly gone anyway and finishing 4th would mainly just be a symbolic gesture but its worth going for.
These final 11 games (6 against likely playoff teams) may not seem like they mean much but they can’t be discounted. Essentially this group is what we are going to see next season and even if it is just a symbolic win finishing 4th would have to have a better taste than finishing 5th.