Can the playoff streak continue?
The National League is split into two categories in 2016 — contenders and rebuilders. There really is no middle ground. Either you expect to hang around the playoff race, or you are dealing away established players and hoarding prospects and high draft picks. Only the San Diego Padres seem to be caught in the middle. The Pirates will face stiff competition to make it four straight trips to the playoffs in 2016. The Arizona Diamondbacks have had an offseason for the ages, and may not be done yet. The San Francisco Giants loaded up on pitching (and it’s an even year). The Cardinals have a better rotation and lineup than the Pirates, and it’s really cool to be a Cub. In the East, the Mets and Washington Nationals should have a fairly easy time racking up wins against the biggest bottom feeders in the league.
That all adds up to a very difficult path to the playoffs for the Pirates in 2016. They’ve defied the odds for three years in a row, but those odds seem even higher in 2016. The Pirates have a plan, though, and they stick to it. If they enter the National League playoff bracket this season, it should still come as a surprise to no one.